Tuesday Takeover: Do you need to hire a copy editor? by Vikki Becker

Enchanted - Vikki

Do you need to hire a copy editor?

The short answer to this question is yes. There will be some who will disagree with me. And that’s ok. Everyone has their own views on this subject. Am I biased because I’m a copy editor? Possibly. I really think my opinion comes from being an obsessive lover of books. Words excite me. Improperly used words annoy me. When I begin reading a new book I feel a sense of wonder. It’s like I’m that little kid with her first library card all over again, anticipating the magical worlds about to unfold as I open the first page to a newly discovered book. Every now and then that excitement is quickly diminished by errors, many errors. If there are just a few? That’s fine, we’re all humans who make mistakes. No one is perfect, not even copy editors. *gasp* (There is a strong possibility there are small errors in this article. Because, although I have excellent reviews for my editing, I am a mere woman.)

If I’m seeing errors on nearly every page I’m going to set a book down. I just can’t allow the magic of the story to take hold amidst the chaos of poor editing. My brain should be drifting off into a beautiful, or not so beautiful, new world. Learning, hoping, loving, hating, and fighting with all of the characters. But I can’t focus on the story! There is the inevitable eye roll while I am contemplating sending an anonymous letter to the author, begging them to hire a professional editor. I haven’t actually done this. Just like I don’t “actually” punch people in the face who chew with their mouth open. I do, however, fantasize about both. More frequently than is normal for a sane person.

Editing our own work is difficult at best. Part of that comes from the fact that when we put the story down, it’s as we saw it, dreamed of it. When we go back to read it again, attempting to self-edit, we still see what we had “intended”, not what we actually wrote. Our minds are tricky little boogers. Someone else, however, can step in with fresh eyes, a new perspective, and the skills to polish the manuscript, in a way that the writer, often, cannot. A good editor will make you comfortable with allowing them to work with you on your baby. He/she will also be true to your voice and vision in the work. Yes, an editor makes corrections. But don’t take that to mean that they can completely butcher and reimagine your work, You are the author, it is your story. So make sure you are a part of the process, that you have an open line of communication, feedback, and that you are very clear about what you do and don’t want from the editing job. It won’t be cheap to hire a professional editor. But what quality services are cheap? It’s important to feel confident before you push that publish button on Amazon or elsewhere. You don’t want to look back a year from now, thinking “if only I’d hired an editor, my book would be more polished, more professional”.

I speak from experience. Yes, I’m an editor. However, I was part of a writing project that others had control over. I only submitted a story, that was the end of my involvement. I had assumed proper editing would be done. The publisher didn’t want anyone who was part of the writing to be the one who edited the book. Unfortunately it wasn’t handled well by the editor who was hired. I no longer promote or associate myself with this book, as it’s an embarrassment. It’s a lesson learned, one I won’t soon forget. Having my first published work turn into an embarrassment was quite disheartening. My hope is that those reading this will be able to avoid this mistake. But I won’t give up. I’m pressing on, chasing the dream! And you should too! I’m sure my fellow editors will agree with this last statement. Please, for the love of the written word, stop having your Mom’s best bud’s neighbor edit for you because she got A’s in English. Just stop.


 

Vikki

Vikki lives in Northern Alabama with her hunky husband, the youngest of their six children, three dogs, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. She’s recently started writing again, after setting it aside to raise and homeschool her kids. She’s been editing for several years now, with rave reviews from clients, and is thrilled to be able to work from home at a job that she adores. When not curled up in the recliner with the laptop and her ShihTzu, Rebel, you’ll find her camping in the woods, drifting on the four wheeler, slinging mud.

You can find Vikki here: www.enchantedediting.com ~  vikkibecker@gmail.com ~ www.facebook.com/enchantedediting ~ @EnchantedEdit

Jun 14, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Do you need to hire a copy editor? by Vikki Becker

Tuesday Takeover: Secret Ingredient For Writers Listed Below by Caroline A. Gill

You know this already. You do. You see it every day, maybe even more often: that sense of wonder. We try to capture it over and over. Whether it’s depicted in a film, in commercials, or in a book, that feeling, that moment of discovery: that’s the magic.

In the contemporary fantasy/fiction writing, we are all under the influence of giants, standing on the shoulders of Tolkien, Lewis, Carroll, and Poe. And that sense of wonder they found in a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole, on the other side of a mirror, in a hobbit hole; that is what we all seek. That is modern magic.

The surprise in a child’s eyes at a birthday party that moment charms us, pulling at our own memories. When our main character finds a skill they didn’t know they had, or a marvelous item that unlocks a door to a new world, it’s all the same.

Discovering the new, finding the magic: we all search for that definable moment of wonder. It is the core of every journey we take, that hope that we will discover something new. That feeling becomes amplified if mixed with love. Or if it is blended with righteous defending anger. Over and over, we wait to be surprised. And we love those who manage to do just that.

Think about your favorite books and movies. It’s those scenes that pull you in, the ones that mirror the wonder you once felt. A return to innocence, the feeling of rightness in the world, the hero who rushes in regardless of personal cost these are primal human emotions.

These are how we connect with the reader. And how the reader connects with us.

Not everyone searches for the same emotions either, which is why even well written books do not appeal to every reader. As fallible, broken beings, we seek a glimpse into the Greater Good. Wonder. Magic. Surprise.

These are the things worth dying for. The friendships worth saving. Treasure beyond price.

In my novel Flying Away, Iolani Bearse encounters loss after loss. First, her father dies in a faraway war, then her mother in a car accident. Lani sees death up close, blood dripping down her mother’s face. And there is a fly there, in the car. Just like there have been flies on the windowsill of her bedroom where she waited for years for her father to return home.

But now, in Lani’s lowest moment, in the chasm of her grief, watching her mother’s eyes glaze over, shattered by her death the houseflies speak to her. Perhaps this is the first time she really listened. And they show her a magic that the insects have always kept hidden.

You’ve seen flies, zipping in the middle of the air, hovering for no apparent reason? Well, that was just so you wouldn’t see what they can do: flying fast enough they can open a portal to anywhere. If a fly has seen a location, any fly can find it. And Lani needs the houseflies and their magic, far sooner than anyone would have suspected. Because the memory thieves are coming. The green lanterns shine in dark of night, harvesting amino acids and draining away whole families, suburbs, and towns. Only the flies protect Lani. Only Lani sees the Stealers. With their help, one orphan girl can save our broken nation.


Caroline Gill

Bio:
Caroline A. Gill went to school at UCLA and NIU. She married the love of her life. Facing the world with children made her aware of how vulnerable they are. Weaving tales of courage, she tries to find hope. Living near the great California Redwoods, she finds a sense of the finite and infinite touching. The creative world is like that, especially when authors feel inspired.  She’s the author of Flying Away, a YA dystopian, supernatural paranormal fantasy. www.authorcarolineagill.com

 

May 24, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Secret Ingredient For Writers Listed Below by Caroline A. Gill

Ren: God’s Little Monster – Release Day!

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Today is the official release day for Ren: God’s Little Monster, the second book in this series. Here’s an inside secret: this wasn’t supposed to be a series. Ren: The Man Behind the Monster was just a small novel I wrote because readers asked me to. They wanted to know more about this mysterious man who constantly pops up in my novels. And so I wrote the first book. And then the strangest thing happened. I realized I had more to say about Ren. In my head I saw more events that happened to him. That was when I realized that I wasn’t done with Ren Lewis. This is book two out of three for the Ren series. The final book, The Monster Inside the Monster will be released this summer in mid July or August. And then I honestly don’t know what will happen. Will Ren pop up in another series? I can’t say. Honestly, I never planned for this character to follow my books around. It just kind of happened. Maybe it’s that unknowing that makes his appearances so real. Hell, half the time the things he says surprise even me. I guess if that’s the case then he’ll for sure surprise readers.

I’m excited to share this second installment with you all. It’s dark, funny and at times offensive. If that’s your thing, then you’re going to love book three which is all of those things times 10. Thanks for the awesome support. Grab book two here.

May 14, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Ren: God’s Little Monster – Release Day!

Tuesday Takeover: How to be uncanny in your writing by John Hancock

Mimics. You know what I mean, those people that can do amazing impersonations. The one I’m most recently impressed by is Ross Marquand, an actor on The Walking Dead. His takes on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine are uncanny. Uncanny — remember that word. In a discussion with a coworker, I put forth my favorite theory on why some people can be accomplished mimics, and some can’t. Oh, for sure, you grew up knowing that guy who could act like the gym teacher and make everyone laugh. But I’m not really talking about that guy. That guy has a light quiver. His only arrow might be the gym teacher and maybe a really mediocre Christopher Walken.  One that makes you cringe but you go along with it because, well, its bad form to point out someone trying that hard is pathetically failing.

These are the average schmoes, guys and gals like you and me that might have only one impersonation. And none of us are uncanny. There’s that word — uncanny. Ok, so back to my theory, and here it is. Or actually I’m going to creep up on my theory by first making an observation. Have you ever seen yourself filmed or recorded and thought “OMG, is THAT my voice? I don’t sound like that at all!”

But of course, yes you do. Because everyone else in the shot sounds like everyone else sounds. But that means you DO sound that. How far is it off for you? For me, my recorded voice sounds more tinny, more sibilant and less masculine than what I hear in my own ears when I talk. Yes, it’s a bit of a blow to my ego. But we’re not talking about me now, are we?

So my theory: Our voices sound differently to ourselves because it has to travel through a different medium. Other people hear us directly through the air. We hear ourselves through the distracting interference of our bones and flesh as it reaches our inner ear. We can’t hear ourselves correctly. Well, most of us. And that brings us back to mimics.

I believe people that are actually uncanny in their ability to mimic a wide ranges of celebrities can do this because they’ve either learned to ignore the distracting interference of their own skull and work around it, OR their interference simply doesn’t exist. They hear themselves exactly as the rest of us do. Either way, this allows them to actively modulate their voice to become the voice of their target of impersonation. So, what does this have to do writing? You’ve probably figure out I’m an author, I could tell you about myself yadda yadda yadda who cares?  I want to talk about when writing actually works, when it comes together like a perfect storm of fate, coincidence or sheer effort to produce a compelling believable piece of writing. I’m suggesting it best happens when we learn to sabotage the distracting interference of our own lives and begin to actually hear and speak what the characters want to say. We become better mimics of them, we follow their speech patterns, their thoughts, their desires, their goals, everything about them. But if we let our own thoughts, our own distractions, our own goals get in the way, then we become that guy who did the gym teacher’s voice, badly. 

It’s a Zen, thing. I love it when it happens. I can plan and plot and intend almost anything, but as I’m writing, the voice of the character tells me “no, John, I’m not saying that. Why would I say that? Don’t you know this scene scares the crap out of me? Don’t you know this guy reminds me of my father, who beat me? I would never politely tell this guy to shove off, I’d do it with a sledgehammer.” The trick, you see, is to let your characters write the story.  Honestly, they’re better at it. It’s their life story, after all. If you MUST look me up as an author, for some reason, I’ve got a few books out. Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Dystopia, short stories. If you’re a fan of Sarah Noffke’s, and you’d be an idiot not to be, the book you’d likely be most interested in would be ROOF.  You can find it or me on Amazon.

Thanks for listening… through the bones in your skull.

John Gregory Hancock

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John Hancock

Bio: John Gregory Hancock is a storyteller.

A graphic professional for many years (which is one way to tell a story), his graphic journalism garnered international awards, and was nominated for a Pulitzer. He incorporates his visual sense in his ability to spin compelling yarns.

Currently, he has seven books of his own, and has written for The Future Chronicles anthology series, whose titles have hit the overall Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers list. The Immortality Chronicles – a Top 5 SF Anthology and Hot New Release – featured his story ‘The Antares Cigar Shoppe’, which was also nominated for Best American Science Fiction. The collection won best anthology from Preditors and Editors

His work has appeared in other anthologies, including; Prep For Doom, Bite-Sized Offerings: Tales & Legends of the Zombie Apocalypse, Flying Toasters – The DeadPixel Tales, and Off the Kuf.

Check out John here: http://www.johngregoryhancock.com/

May 10, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: How to be uncanny in your writing by John Hancock

Tuesday Takeover: Become an Indie Author and Get Rich Quick! By David Estes (Proud to be an Indie!)

The statement above is a lie, I have to admit. I only used it to get your attention. By rich I really mean relatively poor. And by quick I mean in ten to twenty years if you’re lucky, talented and a hard worker. So why am I being so negative? I’m not really, just being realistic and trying to set the many aspiring Indie writers’ expectations appropriately. Why? Because more and more people are telling me that they wrote a book and self-published in hopes of making some quick cash, becoming a bestseller, and quitting their day job. I’m not here to shatter those dreams, but I do want to put things into perspective. I’m also here to shed a little light on the question: Why is it so hard to get people to buy self-published books? And along with that, hopefully give a few tips on what I’ve done to overcome that challenge. Keep in mind, although my success has been moderate as an Indie author, everyone has a different style and what works for me may not work for you. You have to find your own niche.

Did I have big dreams when I first starting writing and publishing? You betcha! I had “bestseller” bouncing around in my head, dreams of being well known across the industry, of finding a publisher with my first novel, of quitting my job and becoming a career author! Well, three years later I’m a fulltime author, but none of the other dreams have yet to come to pass. But I’m not giving up, because I’ve gained a lot of perspective and really had time to think about why I write in the first place. It’s not for the possibility of riches or of a publishing contract or of book signings or fame or glory…no, it’s simply because I love it! I’d encourage anyone else who’s thinking about writing a book, already writing one, or having already published one, to ask yourself the same question. If your answer is anything other than you love writing, maybe you’re on the wrong track.

So you’ve written and published a book, woohoo! Success! Right? My answer is a resounding YES! You should be extremely happy, writing a novel is challenging and doing so should be considered a HUGE victory. Even if you don’t sell a single copy, you should be proud. If I sell 10 of my books and you only sell 5 of yours, does that mean mine’s better? Maybe, but not necessarily. It simply means I’ve had more success overcoming the stigma that Indie novels have. Namely, that they’re poorly edited crap that isn’t worth the $0.99 or $2.99 or whatever you pay for it. On that note, why is getting people to buy self-published novels so difficult? Here are my thoughts and solutions.

1. Problem: Editing! Everyone finds typos in novels, even big published ones. Some people roll their eyes, some people laugh and joke, others barely notice or ignore it and move on. But most published novels have few, less than a handful in a 300-400 page book. Indie novels, on the other hand, yikes! I’ve read a few that have had in the 50-100 range, sometimes more! That can be excruciatingly painful for a reader. So anytime someone picks up a self-published book somehow, somewhere, begins reading it, and finds tons of typos, there’s a good chance it’ll hurt every Indie author. Because that person’s going to say “Hmm, self-published books are poorly edited. I don’t know if I’ll read anymore.” We all suffer even though you had nothing to do with that book!

Solution: Firstly, edit edit edit…and then edit some more. Have friends read your books and give prizes for finding the most typos. Have friends of friends read them. Hire a professional copyeditor if you can afford it. Read it ten times yourself. Find every last bugger. Do us all a favor and help erase the stigma. Because when someone reads a typo-free self-published novel, they’ll say, “Wow, this had less typos than that big bestselling published book I just read!” And they’ll realize, there’s more out there than just books from the big publishing houses, so much more.

Am I just talking about typos here? Although that’s a huge part, no! There’s so much more to editing. Cleaning up dialogue, reading it out loud, thinking “would someone really say that?” Killing excessive use of adverbs, sentence structure, pacing, the list goes on and on. Edit your book to death until no one can tell it’s a self-published novel. When people start reading your book, they’ll respect you, they’ll appreciate your effort, and they’ll be much more likely to tell other people about it as well as buy your next one.

Secondly, giveaway free copies of your book! I know, I know, you’ve worked so hard and you deserve to be compensated. You just have to bite the bullet on this one. The only way to ensure people will read your book and appreciate all your hard work and your talent and the painstaking time you took to edit your novel, is to force them to read it. And if you offer it for free, it will greatly increase your chances that they will. If you giveaway ebooks it won’t cost you a thing. Maybe they’ll write you a stellar review, maybe they’ll tell a friend, maybe they’ll buy the next one. Every book you giveaway has the potential to result in real sales later on.

2. Problem: The plots of Indie novels don’t make sense! This can definitely be true sometimes. Hell, my first drafts usually have all kinds of problems! Unfortunately, many times the bugs don’t get worked out, because, well, us Indies don’t have a team of eagle-eyed editors to point out the flaws in our stories. But that’s no excuse, because it’s killing our ability to be taken seriously in the industry.

Solution: Use beta readers. Not just anyone, good ones! People you don’t know, or don’t know well. Honest people. People who would rather make you cry than let you publish something that’s not as good as it can be. People who care about your books being awesome. You can have family and friends beta read for you, but they can’t be your only beta readers, because it’s much less likely they’ll be completely honest with you. I recommend having at least ten people, but even five can make a huge difference if they’re very critical and brutally honest. I say ten because I’ve had an instance when my first nine betas had already checked in, I’d rewritten and addressed their comments, and I was just waiting on that tenth reader as a formality. To check the box and say “Yep, I got all your comments covered because the other nine said the same thing!” Guess what? That tenth person saw something that the other nine didn’t see. Something big. Something HUGE. Something that improved the story and set the plot on a path that I never would have planned, that made the series a million, zillion times better! Everyone sees different things, so take every opinion seriously.

3. Problem: There are too many Indies out there! How do I stand out? With the creation of ereaders and ebooks, self-publishing has never been easier. In less than an hour, I could create a book that contains just my name spelled backwards and forwards over and over again, publish it in print and ebook, and make it available worldwide. I swear half the people I see joining the YA book groups I’m a member of on Goodreads are new or aspiring Indie authors. I think it’s fantastic! But at the same time, it makes it hard to get noticed. This is a real problem for serious Indies looking to make a career out of writing.

Solution: Don’t be just another Indie author hawking their wares on the street. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that NO ONE is impressed by Indie authors spamming message boards with rubbish about their books. Become a valuable part of the book community as a READER, not a writer. Show people you care about books, writing yeah, reading more, but NOT SELLING. People will notice and they will respect you, and they might give your books a shot. But if not, who cares? You might make a new lifelong friend in the process.

Don’t compare your books to other bestsellers! Your book might be a cross between The Hunger Games and Lord of the Rings, but don’t say that, please! It’s arrogant and annoying and the few people that fall for it and read your book will hate you for it if they disagree with your bold statement. Just be you! Unique.

The advice from the first point stands here too. If you write well-edited books and giveaway lots of free copies, you’ll start to get noticed, even amongst the crowds.

Be patient! Those who are trying to make quick money will realize how hard and competitive the publishing industry really is and they’ll give up, but if you’re serious and you keep working at it, publishing more and more books, growing your readership slowly over time, you’ll outlast the others. I’m not talking days or months here, I’m talking years. You have to be in it for the long run, looking at success ten years down the road. Every step you take today is a step in the right direction.

4. Problem: Indies can’t handle bad reviews! This is an important and often overlooked stigma. Even I worry about reading Indie novels given to me by the authors, because what if I don’t like it? Can I give my honest feedback? Will I hurt their feelings? Will they get pissed off and write me nasty messages? Sometimes it’s easier just to read the bestsellers because the authors don’t give a crap whether I like their book—there are a million other people who do!

Solution: Don’t react or respond to reviews in a negative fashion whatsoever. Many Indies have gotten themselves into a lot of hot water that way, and once you get a reputation for “reviewer bashing” you’ll never recover. If a review is mean or you think it’s unfair, write it off as bad luck that the wrong person got ahold of your book. Never lash out. If you get a review that’s well-written, balanced, and constructive, read that review ten times over, learn from it, improve from it. Your readers will appreciate that more than you throwing a tantrum.

Wow, I fear I’ve run off the virtual page. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you found my thoughts on the challenges of being a self-published author, and some of my proposed solutions, helpful or at least interesting. I wish you all the best in your writing and publishing endeavors, and remember, never give up!

Happy Reading (and Writing)!

David Estes

David Estes

David Estes is the author of more than 20 science fiction and fantasy novels that have received hundreds of thousands of downloads worldwide, including The Moon Dwellers, Fire Country, Slip, Brew, and his new SciFi Pinocchio retelling, Strings. He lives in Hawaii with his inspiring Aussie wife, Adele, rambunctious son, Beau, and naughty cat, Bailey. When he’s not writing, you’ll likely find him at the beach swimming, snorkeling, or reading under an umbrella. You can get FOUR FREE books by signing up for his mailing list on his website: http://davidestesbooks.blogspot.com

Apr 12, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Become an Indie Author and Get Rich Quick! By David Estes (Proud to be an Indie!)

Tuesday Takeover: Literary Prejudices by RJ Blain

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From an early age, we’re taught a lot of things. We learn to tie our shoes, we learn to follow the morals of society, and we’re taught to adhere to a certain set of beliefs. What is popular often comes before our personal interest and likes, and literature is no different. We’re taught we should appreciate literature because it’s old or appropriate, not because we enjoy it.

Too often we’re taught to read, not taught to read what we love. Even from an early age, we’re not given many choices in the types of books we can read.

As often as not, our personal interests fall second to the strict standards of our family and society, resulting in children, teens, and eventually adults adhering to the preferences of others. Fashion is a good example of this. We wear what society teaches us is popular, not necessarily what we want to wear. Young girls are encouraged to like the color pink and pursue interests ‘suitable’ for their gender. As early as pre-teens and early teens, clothing is sexualized to conform to society’s standards of popularity. Merchandise from popular franchises, especially within the superhero genre, are skewed heavily for male audiences.

Literature is no different, and it should be. This trend is most obvious when it comes to the interests of the young, highlighted by novels like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray. Women are scorned for having interest in these types of books. Men, young or old, are discouraged from having any interest in the romance genre at all. Perceptions of a story’s intended audience often result in the culture of interest shaming.

Twilight has become a showcase novel of this syndrome, with lovers of this book often facing the scorn and ridicule from others, particularly among those who consider themselves more literate. This problem is present in every genre of fiction, resulting in alienating potential readers, which in turn harms everyone.

This is a problem, especially in fantasy and science fiction genres, which heavily rely on people thinking outside of society’s norms. While certain elements of the science fiction and fantasy genres have become mainstream, many still have a negative reputation, particularly paranormal romance. Other targeted sub-genres include shifter fiction, vampire fiction, and many types of space opera.

These genres of fiction have a unique quality; they attract new, young readers, which is why readers should consider putting aside their prejudices to recommend these titles to the young audiences beginning to explore fiction as a viable source of entertainment.

While many readers may not consider Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and similar books to be good fiction, they share one important advantage: they capture the imagination.

Unfortunately, too many learning to read for enjoyment are being scorned for their interests. The only message this sends is that they are not allowed to love the books they enjoyed and that their interests do not matter.

Literary prejudices hurt us all, restrict the type of literature written and released to the market, and prevent people from feeling comfortable trying a new story or genre from fear of being scorned for their interests.

Change begins with each and every one of us. Instead of scorning those who enjoy a book you don’t like, embrace them and their interests. Encourage them to read, even if you don’t find their type of book to your liking. When you review, if you think you’re just not the right audience for the title, say who you think is the audience, without prejudice.

It’s okay to dislike a book, and it should be okay to love a book, too.

Many of us love books. I, for one, would rather recommend a book I hate to someone who will love it. They’ll be reading, and that’s the most important thing of all.

RJ Blain - Author Photo

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied. Discover Blain’s books here.

Apr 4, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Literary Prejudices by RJ Blain

Tuesday Takeover: Why we love Zombies by Lindsey Winsemius

Do you love Zombies? Where do you think your captivation with the undead comes from?

Love them or hate them, we’ve all seen the explosion of Zombie pop culture, from literature, film, and television to university classes and themed events. I’ve talked a little bit previously about why we love dystopian themes [http://www.lindseywinsemius.com/blog/7-reasons-we-love-dystopian-books].

Now let’s explore our fascination with the undead.

The general zombie concept has Haitian origins, the term nzambi, referring to someone’s “soul.” It is believed that people who die unnatural deaths (such as murder) have souls that are vulnerable to being snatched by sorcerers and locked in a bottle, allowing the sorcerer to use their undead body.

Hatians were pre-occupied with this concept because of the prevalence of slavery throughout Africa; having one’s soul enslaved after death was the final horror. Where does our modern interest in Zombies stem from?

Here are several reasons suggested by researchers of the subject.

6 Reasons we love Zombies

According to the experts.

1. Zombies help us understand and deal with current societal issues.

“You can’t shoot the financial meltdown in the head — you can do that with a zombie.” Max Brooks, World War Z Author

Just like I talked about our love of dysptopian stems from the very dystopian world in which we live now, our fascination with Zombies is a way to deal with the societal wrongs of today. We feel helpless in the face of global warming, crazy politicians, and threats of terrorism. But a Zombie apocalypse? Grab your shotgun and some of the free stuff all the other dead people have left behind, and you’re going to change the world one dead un-dead at a time.

2. Zombies will punish the bad guys

The apocalypse is one way to find justice in a world that is sadly lacking. Imagining our enemies being overrun by Zombies can be a safe yet satisfying way to feel like the scales will eventually be balanced. Think of the many times in Zombie lore in which the bad guy (because naturally Zombies are not bad enough) gets his or her comeuppance in a delightfully horrific way. Or consider the guy at work who never really works, and everyone else is carrying the team. He obviously isn’t going to survive in a Zombie apocalypse, and won’t it be satisfying to know his laziness is finally going to bite him in the ass (possibly quite literally)?

Even if it might be a little uncomfortable to think in these terms, subconsciously we all want justice. Imagining a more equal society where people who work hard will survive, and the underserving are turned into the undead that we can then deal with accordingly can be quite satisfying.

3. Zombies give us an outlet for our aggression

Not only does the Zombie apocalypse allow us to imagine a world in which the base of humanity is being punished for its wrongs, it also lets us celebrate the highly militarized media culture in which we live. We don’t have to feel bad about imagining taking a machete to everyone around us, when everyone around us is trying to devour our flesh.

As depicted in the popularity of first-person shooter games like Call of Duty: Black Ops, killing Zombies is a completely acceptable way to play out aggression and embrace the shoot ‘em up nature of our society.

4. Zombies level the playing field.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a blank slate society where anyone can be a hero? Where success is completely dependent on our survival skills?

“People are still afraid of dying, getting sick, of social infrastructures falling apart. The collective nightmare. And it poses the question of, ‘What would you do? Would you survive?’ It plays out this great survival narrative.” Professor Kyle Bishop

Many professors feel that the idea of the Zombie apocalypse is so appealing because it levels the playing field for many of us. Presidents and the poverty-stricken can become equals in this scenario, allowing anyone with some concept of self-preservation, and perhaps a firearm, to survive and flourish.

5. Zombies give us a way to handle our fears.

“The West African version of the zombie didn’t eat brains — they weren’t scary in the same way our zombies are scary. They were a symbol for fear of enslavement under French colonial rule. People weren’t afraid of them, but of becoming a zombie and losing control. So the original zombie reflects the fears of the society in which it was created. The zombie becomes a window into ourselves.” Professor Kelly Murphy

What Murphy says is most interesting is how the zombie apocalypse shows that people shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of the zombies they are running from, but of other humans. Zombies become the background material. The real question — and this is something that has become prevalent in many zombie television shows and flicks — is, “Can you trust the other people that you meet along the way while trying to survive?”; and if you can’t, then what does that say about humanity? “Even if we haven’t turned into the monster, the zombie is a reflection of how we ourselves become the monster.”

Humanity is full of monsters hidden beneath a veneer of civility. Wouldn’t it be wonderful is every jerk out there who wouldn’t hesitate to back stab you looked like a half dead corpse, instead of your next door neighbor? Not only would they be much easier to recognize the evil in the world around us, we could actually do something about it. Like shoot them in their undead brain. This gives us a much more satisfying way to deal with the real monsters around us, and feel as if we could possibly have some control over them.

Consider the popular game and movie series Resident Evil. The real evil in the movie is not the army of reanimated dead taking over the world, but the Umbrella Corporation whose greed has resulted in the apocalypse. If that isn’t a metaphor for the direction of our current societal issues, I don’t know what is.

6. Zombie vs other apocalypse: More control of survival.

Zombies give us something to fight. You can’t fight a deadly virus, a natural disaster, or even a nuclear fallout. But you can fight Zombies. The Zombie apocalypse is one we are more likely to survive if we use our wits, band together, and find an abandoned prison full of old rations and ammo.

That is the appeal of the Zombie apocalypse scenario over other suggest end-of-the-world scenes. We all feel as if we’d be the few who would survive (except me, I’m absolutely certain I’d be turned into a moaning undead within the first five minutes) and be able to use our blank slate society to start fresh. We’d live in the World War Z world, after the war had ended (I’m talking about the novel, not the movie). The world being rebuilt by the strong, by the brave, by the survivors.

Do you love Zombies? What do you think is most fascinating about the idea of a Zombie apocalypse?

 

Lindsey

About Lindsey Winsemius

Lindsey is an author and marketer living in Grand Haven, Michigan with her husband and two young children. When she’s not imagining different apocalyptic scenarios, she writes romantic suspense and dystopian novels. You can connect with her on Amazon, Facebook, or her website.

 

Sources: http://mashable.com/2015/03/12/zombie-obsession/#.FsvOJ4wpkq5

http://www.popmythology.com/why-people-love-the-zombie-apocalypse/

http://www.socraticmethod.net/essays/zombies/page2.htm

http://www.umich.edu/~uncanny/zombies.html

Mar 29, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Why we love Zombies by Lindsey Winsemius

Tuesday Takeover: You’re Afraid of What? by Casey Hays

Hays blog photo

Have you ever taken a good look at the list of phobias? It’s extensive to say the least. You can find a phobia for just about anything if you search hard enough. We’re all familiar with the most common ones. Claustrophobia, the fear of tight spaces. Arachnaphobia, the fear of spiders. Or how about this one: arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter. Imagine that!

If I had a phobia, and I’m neither admitting nor denying it, but if I did, I would have to concede to this one: enosiophobia – the fear of criticism.

Okay… I admit it. I cringe just a little, teeny, tiny bit under the weight of that big word.

I am anal enough to also admit that I did google the different types of criticisms. Guess what? The list is just about as long as the phobias’ list.

Reasonably speaking, I know that all criticism isn’t negative. There is the constructive type, and when given in kindness and taken pragmatically, it’s great. And yet, even with this fact planted firmly in my brain, my heart thumps one beat too fast when a critique, good or bad, is directed toward me.

My initial reaction, many times, is to become defensive. Not necessarily externally . . . but inside. And then, I begin to reason with myself before approaching the “antagonizer.” I’m a great debater, you see. I’ll reason myself all the way around a critique or into a corner, whichever comes first, hoping to convince the critic to go easier on me.

But never did this fear of criticism strike me more strongly than when I became a writer.

Is there a fear of edits? Revisophobia, perhaps?

Now, I know my editors are on my side. Like me, they want my story to be the best it can possibly be, and this is the only reason for the harsh “appraisal.” Everything in me knows it. I know it when I’m asked to cut my favorite scene because “it doesn’t really add anything to the plot.” I get it when I’m told “it might be wise to write two extra chapters for consistency’s sake,” thus pushing our deadline back a week or more. When I’m gently prompted to use a different word even though I love the one staring back at me from the page, I still know it. And I still tremble and pout and really, really want to say, “What? Now you don’t like my word choices either?”

I can’t be the only author who suffers from this sickness, haha! Just kidding. Really, I’m not phobic. I’m just an author; I exaggerate for creative ambience. *wink, wink* But seriously, I think all of us can agree that when we write, every single word drips onto the paper straight from our hearts. And when we surface brandishing that beautifully woven tale tightly clenched in our fists and prepare to pass it under the scrutinizing eye of inquiring minds for the very first time, it’s a scary feeling. Gut-wrenching, even. In fact, I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to that lightning streak of unease that crackles through me and encourages a sudden dose of Xanax.

It takes me a good couple of days to work up the nerve to open up an email from my editor when I know it contains a myriad of critiques and cuts and suggestions. My hands get sweaty, my heart races, and I have no doubt, at least in that one single moment that I must indeed suffer from enosiophobia. The same thing happens when I notice a new review for one of my books. The moment of truth . . . and my anxiety level soars.

Because I don’t suffer, however, from scriptophobia (the fear of writing), I continue to subject myself to the scrutiny of editors and reviewers alike.

But if I’m being honest, there’s a bigger part of me that actually loves the fear. I’m pretty sure this oddity in me comes from the same place that makes me keep watching horror flicks despite the fact that I’m jumpy for days afterwards. It’s the terrifying thrill that I must have. Fear lingering over the shoulder of the writer in me eventually gives me the adrenaline rush I need to finally open that blinking message from my editor. It’s what drives me to work harder, to write better, to make those editors continue to say, “Wow, you’ve really come a long way since we first met.”

I like to think that with every book I write . . . handling the criticism becomes easier. To a degree, this statement is true fact. And I’m convinced that one day, taking criticism will be easier than swallowing swords.

Uh, yeah. Note my slight hint of sarcasm.

————————

Hays

Casey Hays lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. She is a former high school English teacher turned author. She loves Young Adult Fiction as well as supernatural, fantasy sci-fi, and dystopian–all with a twist of romance. She is the author of four works: “The Cadence” a YA supernatural romance, and Arrow’s Flight, a YA Christian dystopian sci-fi series: Breeder, The Archer, and Master, which released on January 15, 2016. Her short story “Edge of a Promise” is featured in the collaborative anthology PREP FOR DOOM, published June 18, 2015. Currently, she is working on a series of novellas for Arrow’s Flight, as well as a YA supernatural romance based on the legend of the Phoenix.  http://www.whisperingpages.com/

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Mar 22, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: You’re Afraid of What? by Casey Hays

Official Release of Final Book in Vagabond Circus Series. And No it Doesn’t Suck

Released release

Yes, I wrote another book. Yes, I churn them out kind of fast. No, they don’t suck. I’ve written eleven books. And inside of sixteen months, I’ve published ten of them. I promise you that they don’t suck. Promise.

I was having a conversation with a lady-kinda-sorta-friend-person the other day in a parking lot. Here’s how it went. I’ll keep it brief.

Her: “What’s been going on?”

Me: “I’m publishing another book this week.”

Her: “Another?” And her face resembled something you see when the movie jumps the shark.

Me: “Well, yeah. The book was done. The editor had finished. Readers wanted. I published. That’s how I do.”

Her: She gave me a long silent stare.

I don’t do silent stares. I ask questions.

Me: “What?”

Her: “Well, at the rate you publish, how do you know your books don’t suck?”

And there in lies the question I’ve met recently. I guess I don’t really know if my books are amazing. Here’s what I do know. I have a plethora of beta readers who tell me the truth. Always. I have an editor who I know won’t feed my ego. I’ve tried to get her to. She tells me my books are good. And I have an instinct about my books and a need for perfection.

I write my books fast. Are they all good? I think so.

Look, here’s what it boils down to this year, because next year might be different: I don’t sleep. I have unrealistic standards. And I love what I do. So yes, I published 10 books inside of 16 months, and I put my seal of approval on those pages. They’re good. Some of them are great! My stories tend to come out fast. Maybe that’s because they need to be told, or I need to tell them, or because I like offending otherwise nice mom’s in parking lots who ask me direct questions. Hard to say. I have to get back to writing now.

Mar 18, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Official Release of Final Book in Vagabond Circus Series. And No it Doesn’t Suck

Tuesday Takeover: Play for the Win by EE Isherwood

When I first considered penning a book I was in my mid-40’s, had a full-time job, and supported a young family. In 2014 my grandmother passed away. For some reason, that event inspired me to write a short story set in a zombie universe. The little old woman in my story had to survive an encounter with her live-in nurse—who had become infected with the zombie virus. When I finished the 6000-word story, I loved it so much I wanted to keep going. I wrote a book about what she did next. Then I wrote two more books, with at least one more in the works.

Over the next year I lost my job and had months of free time to work on my writing. It slowly dawned on me they formed a coherent story that maybe…just maybe…someone would want to read. So I got to the hard work of editing, designing covers, and formatting for Kindle. I also spent a lot of my days doing research into self publishing. I wanted to do it all myself the first time, just so I could learn what goes into it.

The number one lesson I took away from all my research up until that point was to always respect your readers. Anyone who takes a chance on your book is going to spend several hours inside your world. Is it ready for them? Did you invest in a professional editor? If not, why? Does your cover look like it belongs on a shelf in Barnes and Noble? If not, why?

When I hit publish in December of 2015, I truly believed I was publishing for a few friends and my mom. I thought I was doing right by them. I edited the book myself several times. I put probably a month of man hours into editing those 90,000 words. I released with a simplified cover I felt was competent, though I had no illusions it was top notch. Being unemployed, it didn’t make any sense to invest money into something I had no idea was going to make a nickel for me in the short term.

In short, I wasn’t playing to win.

When you publish your book, think about why you are doing it. Is it to make money? Is it to wow readers? Is it to prove to your naysayers that you can publish it? Is it because you want to share something brilliant with the world? Is it because you think you are super awesome? Maybe you just want to prove to yourself you can do it.

If any of those are true, and you release without professional editing or a professional cover, you aren’t playing for the win. Think about any grand opening you’ve ever attended. If the business had dirt and debris on their parking lot, broken shelves and misplaced product on the inside, and clogged toilets, what are your chances of ever going back—even if whatever they were selling was brilliant?

Being an author is a strange place for an introvert such as myself. It simultaneously begs for humility and braggadocio. But promoting something that isn’t an absolute best effort is a formula for failure. So how do you stay grounded while playing for the win? Easy. Eliminate points of failure.

  • Book cover. If your cover doesn’t belong on a shelf at Barnes and Noble, are you sure you want to tell a reader it’s still good enough for their shelf? I thought my original cover was respectable, but my new professional cover makes my original look juvenile. Cost to cross this problem off your list: less than $150.
  • Editing. I rate myself as a decent writer and a decent editor. Not great, but decent. I read my manuscript end-to-end four times on printed paper before release. I had my wife read it. A trusted friend read it. Then I paid a professional editor to read it. She found an extra word in a sentence on page 3! If I had sent that book out for review, imagine my chances of getting favorables. Cost to cross this problem off your list: $200 at a minimum for basic proofreading services. Double that (or more) if there are deeper problems.
  • Story. OK, here’s where the rubber meets the road. People love your cover. They read the sample and find the editing is good. Now, is your story something people actually want to read? No, your Mom doesn’t count. No one you know personally can answer this question for you. Find a community of readers in your genre. Ask for beta readers. Listen to them. We all want to believe we are special snowflakes. Here’s the big secret: we aren’t. You are going into a marketplace that gets 6000 books a day—your competition! And that’s just Amazon. If your story doesn’t impress non-partial beta readers, you can’t possibly hope to get lots of glowing reviews, which are your book’s lifeblood out there. Cost: nothing.

Here’s the good news. Playing to win is actually not that expensive. If you’re writing for anyone besides yourself, you can’t go wrong paying the $500 to edit and sheath your book. Sure, that may be a lot of money for a roll of the dice, but your book is your intellectual property that can sit in a variety of electronic bookstores FOREVER. You’ve created something that will generate revenue for you until the day you die, plus 70 years. Think about that, then adjust your math.When you hit publish you are either dumping a second-rate product into a bottomless pit with 6000 other books, or you’ve invested in yourself and your property to ensure you have the best chance of recouping your investment rather quickly. In my case, it took about 20 days with revenue from KDP Select, and I’m a nobody.Play for the win, believe and invest in your product, and give yourself a chance to succeed. Your readers will love you for it.

isherwood-250-promo

About:

EE Isherwood is a lifelong reader of post-apocalyptic fiction. In 2015, life gave him the opportunity to try his hand at writing and he began with a short story about a 104-year-old great-grandmother. Then he tossed her into the zombie apocalypse in his debut novel Since the Sirens. He wrote two more books about her as part of the Sirens of the Zombie Apocalypse series. A fourth volume is coming. Every day he goes to bed amazed he’s kept her alive for one more day.

http://amazon.com/author/eeisherwood

http://www.zombiebooks.net

Mar 15, 2016 | Posted by in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tuesday Takeover: Play for the Win by EE Isherwood