Archive for the ‘#openbook’ Tag

Quality Improvements   3 comments

October 16, 2017 – Things you want to see change in your industry.

WordPress:




Custom Blog:

An InLinkz Link-up


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

This is a hard post for me because I don’t consider myself to be much of a prophet and I subscribe to the “be careful what you wish for” philosophy of life. “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” and “I really didn’t mean THAT” are cautionary for a reason.

So what changes would I “want” to see in my industry?

Oh, boy!

Related imageHigher quality books by independent authors would make my #1 spot on the list. Conversely, I’d like to see all the “quality doesn’t matter” crowd take an extended vacation. Go edit your books and learn how to format and come back in a year. That should leave the minority slice of the indie field free to really surprise people with the quality of our books. I don’t fear competition from high quality books. I fear being lost in a sea of poor quality, so that it is hard to break the surface and shine forth as a truly worthwhile author.

More collaborative marketing efforts. I don’t know how that would work itself out and there are certainly authors doing that now with bundles, freebies, samplers and collaborative ads. I’m always willing to cross-promote on my blog. I think there is power in numbers, especially for people who have limited advertising budgets. I am not a great idea person in the marketing arena, but I would certainly join with authors who wanted to do something. I just wish it were easier to connect and the quality was high enough that you could be assured of a good showing.

A reduction in social media. I’ve never been a social media warrior. I feel the huge time suck. Unfortunately, because everybody else is doing it, I sort of have to … but I think that social media mania may be waning. I hear of some authors reducing their social accounts. I see that as a good sign. Right now, we’re all shouting into the echo chamber and canceling each other out. Surely there is a better way to do this. What? I don’t know. Someone make a suggestion.

Getting away from paid review services. As a reader, I’ve never trusted them. An author/publisher paid for those glowing kudos. I’ve never bought a book on the recommendation of Publishers Weekly and I never will. I do, however, check out what readers have to say about the book.

Authors getting real about time lines. There are tons of books being published daily, so nobody should expect to be on the Times Best Sellers list two days later. Our books may sell well, eventually, but it’s going to be a more long haul affairs with a lot of work before it happens. Spend your budget dollars wisely. Don’t blow it all in the first week. Plan for the long haul. The converse of this is that advertising venues might want to come down on their prices a bit because it will now take two, three or four ads to get the same sales as one used to garner.

I’d love to see online editing tools for published ebooks, so typos can be fixed without having to re-upload files.

How about a place for matching writers with cover artists, editors, beta readers, and formatters?

The book discovery process could be refined. Amazon recommends titles once you have a buying history with them, but I remember the old days of accidentally discovering a great book while browsing the stacks of the local bookstore. Surely, something could be created to mimic that in the digital universe.

I want to see new genres. I’m not saying let’s get rid of the old genres, but that more choice is a good thing. I’m old enough to remember when fantasy was grouped with science fiction and marketed as science fiction because the Big 5 thought they had to trick people into reading fantasy. Now, it’s a standalone genre that has several subcategories.

I think that’s about it. No, I’m not offering any solutions to how we achieve these improvements. I think Amazon probably has some IT guys who can work on some of it.

Advertisements

Posted October 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

What Tools Do I Use?   4 comments

October 9, 2017 – My favorite business resources.

WordPress:



Custom Blog:

https://static.inlinkz.com/cs2.js

An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

“Real” businesses have resources and business plans. For my husband’s maintenance company, the resources are, largely, his skills and licensing, his truck, and a Google ad. He asks me to do flyers for him occasionally and he has his business card pinned in places where people might be looking for companies that do maintenance. Above all, he tries to treat his existing customers well so they will keep calling him and let their friends know that he does good work.

Image result for image of writers resourcesA lot of people feel authors are not “real” businesses. I struggle with this concept too, because although my books (mostly) pay for themselves, I’m investing my own money in getting them going. Still, I am a business … or my books are. What resources do I have and use and which are my favorites?

First, there are the resources I really can’t stand. Twitter. Ugh! But it does sell books, so …. I am marginally less turned off by Facebook, but …. It’s not that I hate the people I interact with on social media. I actually enjoy interacting with fans and friends when there is interaction. It’s that I hate the time sucks both represent. But they are necessary for marketing books in this day and age, so ….

Amazon is probably my most useful resource. KDP allows some promotion and, hey, self-publishing is the greatest resource an independent author has. I try to ignore the exclusivity required of KDP. I would like to be all over the self-publishing spectrum, but I’ve discovered it is harder to sell books that way than it is to be exclusive to KDP. If I ever have a book that doesn’t sell through Amazon though ….

Anthologies are a great resource. Rather than look at them as time sucks and distractions, I see them as marketing tools. Write a short story, get it accepted into an anthology and sometimes other authors’ fans will discover you next to their favorite author and now you’ve made a few new fans who might come buy your full length books.

Thunderclap.it – I don’t have a big advertising budget. I have to do it myself with limited funds. I’ve built my social media network up to 18,000 now, but with Thunderclap.it, I can borrow the social media networks of hundreds of other authors and market my books to many, many more potential readers than I can alone. All it requires is that — ugh — time-sucking interaction. But it’s worth it.

My local writer’s guild. I get great ideas from them because some of the writers there have been self-publishing for decades and know a thing or two about how to market in ways I have never even thought of. And, we hold our monthly meetings in a local art gallery, so it’s a visual feast as well.

That’s probably about it. I could list a bunch of little stuff, but those are the big resources that I use.

Faith, Hope, Charity   5 comments

Talk about your favorite charity and why it’s your favorite?

WordPress:



Custom Blog:


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

Christians are called the church ministry, giving of our time and resources to the work of the gospel. Sometimes that means helping those in need of physical assistance, but God calls us to spread His good news of salvation more than He calls us to provide food and shelter to the needy. It’s not that those things aren’t important, but that they aren’t as important as salvation, so unless a “charity” has the gospel component in it as a primary focus, I don’t contribute to it.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaYes, the Red Cross, United Way, and other charities do good work at what they do, but they aren’t doing what God has commanded Christians to do, so I put my resources where God says they will do the most good. There are plenty of other people to provide “rice” to those in need while ignoring the more important issue of salvation and evangelism.

The primary recipient of my limited charitable-giving funds is University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s a Great Commission Baptist church, part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Being in Alaska, it’s been “fun” (not) all these decades to try to explain the geography of being a member of an Southern Baptist church. We’re Southern Baptist, but only a handful of the members have ever lived in the South. Our pastor is from Oklahoma. One of our deacons was born in Mississippi. That’s as close to “southern” that we get. So saying we’re a Great Commission Baptist church just geographically makes more sense. Besides “Great Commission Baptist” puts the emphasis where it ought to be — on the mission Jesus gave His disciples … to spread the gospel.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaska*Although this article includes photographs of UBC church members, in keeping with my promise not to invade my family’s privacy, they were taken from the church website and none of them include me or mine.

Brad and I combine our 10% of our net income with the 200+ members of UBC. Some of that money stays in the congregation. Our building is paid for and we are a debt-free congregation, but of course, light bills must be paid and you have to heat buildings in Alaska. Our building is also home to a Chinese congregation. There’s Sunday school materials and children and youth ministries and we have a thriving College and Careers group. Some of our young people are returning to the small-group concept of mid-weekly Bible study and prayer, probably in people’s homes. We’re on the list, though we study with another Sunday morning class. I’ve recently stepped out to teach the teenagers during a mid-weekly time. We’ll be starting that soon. But, of course, there are “rice” ministries that exist and our church gives standing contributions to the local Food Bank and also the Rescue Mission. We also host one of the distribution points for the Food Bank.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThe Southern Baptist Convention has a great system for charitable giving. It’s called the Cooperative Program. Churches required to give at least 1% of their offerings to CP in order to send delegates to the Convention. Our church gives more than that, but churches across the nation give a percentage of their offerings to CP and it is distributed to ministry needs across the world – some local, some statewide, some national and some international. I know local SB/GC churches that receive pastoral assistance and ministry stipends through CP. The Alaska Baptist Convention is supported by CP. A lot of urban church starts are funding through CP funds. Churches teach English and citizenship to the foreign-born, provide assistance to the homeless, help pregant teens, and many other ministries, depending on what God has laid on the hearts of that congregation. Southern Baptist relief workers are on the ground doing a lot of heavy lifting in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico right now. I know several agricultural and medical missions internationally that are funded through CP. My friend Sylvia’s parents were part of a mission to Aborigines in Australia, a ministry that continues today under Aborigine leadership. The CP funds also support state, local, national and international offices that help to assist these multiple ministry avenues and coordinate resources going to them.

Additionally, we have four special offerings during the year. Because of the steady flow of CP funds, special offering monies are used in direct ministry rather than administrative costs. So 98% of any offering will go directly to ministry rather than salaries or overhead.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThis time of year, we do the Valeria Sherard State Missions offering, which goes in support of ministries within Alaska. The $80,000 they hope to raise ends up in some mighty diverse places. Almost as soon as the Valeria Sherard offering closes, we’ll start focusing on the Lottie Moon Christmas offering which goes to International missions. And then there’s the Annie Armstrong Easter offering in the spring, which is used within the United States and Canada with some overlap into Mexico. Finally, the Tanana Valley Association has the summer Harley and Martha Shields offering which goes to support local ministries. For the record, I knew Valeria (pronounced Valera) Sherard and Harley and Martha Shield. Martha led my daughter to the Lord in Vacation Bible School.

Additionally, the North American Mission Board (NAMB is one of the SBC’s arms) made it easy to give to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to support the cleanup of Harvey, Irma and Marie. Brad spent two weeks after Sandy reconnecting houses to the utilities. I reroofed houses in Appalachia after a big storm there several years ago. (Yeah, you never know what sort of skills this Alaska chick might possess).

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaOccasionally, if we can afford some extra, Brad and I will give donations to Samaritan’s Purse  — we do a Christmas shoebox most years, but we also give cash donations when we can afford it — and my personal happy donation is Heifer International, which provides (mostly) goats to third-world families so they can increase the protein through milk in their diets and, for some, sell milk and cheese to improve their economic conditions. Founded in 1944, Heifer International provides livestock, seeds, trees and extensive training to those in need around the world. The idea is to provide aid that will replicate itself.

All of these charities have three things in common. First, foremost and beyond anything else – the focus in on the gospel. The “rice”nature of the ministry is in support of evangelism, not the other way around. Second, they also all score comparatively well on the administrative versus ministry balance scale. When I see an organization spending tons of money on director salaries and nice office space, I don’t consider them to be a charity. They are a jobs program for people who like to look like they care. So, I give my money carefully to organizations that meet high standards. Yeah, you have to make a living while doing ministry. I don’t have a problem with paying people. But the standard should be modest salaries compared to donations, a lot of volunteers and bivocational workers, and modest office spaces. Administration should always be a minority slice of expenditures, so that food, materials and ministry flow to those who need it rather than to professional “ministers”. Third, their aim is to provide material assistance that moves people out of needing material assistance in the future. That’s why Heifer International is my favorite occasional charity because by providing goats, seeds, chickens, trees, and training, they give people the tools they need to become self-sustaining.

Give a hungry man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

Learning From History   3 comments

September 25, 2017 – Tell us your biggest business lesson learned. If you were to start your writing career all over again, what would you do differently?

Image result for image of adventure canoeingHere in Alaska’s Interior, some rivers meander through gently rolling hills, occasionally changing their courses, creating slow-moving sloughs with a trickle of water flow that eventually become oxbow lakes stranded from the main channel. Other rivers run through the broad, mostly flat Tanana River valley in miles-wide multi-channeled braids, occasionally divorcing sloughs that might only have water in them every decade or so. When you’re canoeing or riverboating, sometimes you end up going down a slow-moving slough and get stopped by a big logjam or gigantic beaver dam, so you have to turn around and paddle back upstream to take another route. What does this have to do with our OP? It’s a metaphor.

WordPress:



Custom Blog:


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

 

My writing career has been long and varied and I’ve learned a lot from the many mistakes and writing sloughs I have taken. I started out as a creative writer, scribbling for my own pleasure in elementary school and junior high and then submitting to school literary publications in high school. But I knew that I couldn’t make a living doing that, so I majored in journalism in college. Newspaper reporting was fun, low-pay and frustrating as the politics of the editorial staff began to dictate what facts were allowed to be reported. Throughout the rest of my career, I’ve done a lot of technical writing – editing grant documents, producing newsletters and excelling at desktop publishing. Different kinds of writing are useful in different parts of my life, so I can’t call any of them “sloughs” or “mistakes.”

Image result for image of alaska braided riverThroughout all of it, I’ve always written for my own amazement and I am now mining my back catalog of tales written for myself to publish.

I have no regrets writing-wise, although if I had to do it all over again …

  • I’d have jumped on the self-publishing bandwagon sooner. It doesn’t mean my books are lesser quality. It just means I have a smaller advertising budget.
  • I’d have embraced Facebook and Twitter for marketing sooner.
  • I’d have started socking small amounts of cash into my Pay Pal account earlier so that I would have a larger cash-flow stream now.
  • I’d have paid closer attention in art class to improve my book covers now.
  • I’d have worked harder at teaching myself to write Alaskana – it sells, but I struggle with it (which is why I haven’t published any … yet).
  • I’d have not taken a 25-year hiatus from writing short stories. They’re a great marketing tool for the novels if you can get them into good anthologies.

Overriding lesson – write for your own amazement and you might find other people enjoy it as much as you do, but also do things sooner, don’t be so slow to adopt great ideas … be adventurous. You’d think an Alaskan would already know that lesson about adventure.

 

Posted September 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Economic Armageddon?   2 comments

The Great Recession. We have probably all heard of if not lived through a recession. If a recession occurred today, what would you do to sustain your lifestyle? What changes would you make?

WordPress:



Custom Blog:


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

 

So, I’ve calculated that this is the 4th deep recession I’ve lived through. There was the 1970s Stagflation recession, the Alaska Great Recession of the 1990s, the US Great Recession of 2008 and still continuing by some definitions, and the current Alaska recession caused by OPEC manipulation of the oil markets.

I’ve studied enough classical economics to know that depressions and recessions are part of the natural economic cycle. They have occurred many times throughout history. While they scare the snot out of a lot of people, they aren’t as bad as we have been taught to think they are.

Image result for image of savings

The singer Della Reese once gave a quintesential definition of a recession and a depression:

“It’s a recession if you don’t have a job; it’s a depression if I’m unemployed.”

Seriously, a recession and depression are very similar. Generally a depression is more severe, but not necessarily in the long-run because prices fall along with wages, while in a recession wages fall while prices often remain quite high and sometimes even go up.

So, what would I do if another recession hit? Well, it’s more like — what am I doing now? When the Recession of 2008 hit, Brad and I had just paid off the majority of our debts (except our mortgage), which meant that we had a little more latitude than some of our friends who were debt-leveraged up to their eyeballs. We had been living a fairly spartan life for a few years to get our debts under control, so we didn’t particularly panic when jobs dried up. Brad opened his own company, sometimes took jobs with the union when he could and we learned to live on my salary. The hard part was when I lost my job in 2012, but I was only out of work for about six weeks. It wiped out our savings, but we met our bills.

Since then, we’ve not really reclaimed a lavish lifestyle. We don’t go out to eat. We don’t have a cable bill. We look for clothes at the second-hand store before we buy new. We burn wood to save money on diesel fuel. We don’t have credit cards. We use our debit cards, saving 20% in interest, and we bank our extra money as savings. We’re not as good as my mom was at it. We don’t have the kind of reserves I would like to have. Mom lived through an actual Great Depression. She was willing to do with a whole lot less than we are. We’re spoiled.

I think we’re probably better prepared for a depression than we are a recession because prices fall during a depression and it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that prices today are way WAY over inflated. Just do a little research on how much it costs to manufacture or grow some items and how much it costs us to buy them. Yes, it should always cost more to buy something than it costs to create it — that is a necessary profit — but when you see such a wide difference, you can be assured a market correction will eventually come about. These days it’s being prevented by government interference in the markets, but eventually, it will become inevitable because we are way overdue.

People who have saved money in those instances are the fortunate ones because their dollars are stronger in a depressive economy. What’s more, banks usually tighten their lending standards, which includes raising the interest rate on loans, which means your savings interest rate also increase, so you make money on having money in the bank. Still, having savings in a recessive economy is still a good idea. It is certainly better than holding debt. Brad and I would hunker down, not change our lifestyle a whole lot, and wait out the crisis. Because his skills will be needed regardless of the economy, we’d still have an income, albeit not one we might wish we had. I’m still of a mind that if you can’t find work in your field, find work where there is work, so I would find something that would pay the bills … assuming my current job went away, which it might or might not.

I should also point out that in a national recession, Alaska almost always does better than the national average. We joke that we’re protected by the Great Barrier Reef of Canada. Canada really doesn’t have much to do with it, but our resource-based economy does. Because we have oil and minerals and demand for those does not go down during a recession, our economy takes less of a hit. Unfortunately, when the price of oil drops really low because OPEC decides to once-again corner the market, Alaska then struggles with a recession, which is what’s going on here now.

So what are Brad and I doing? Yeah, living a frugal lifestyle and banking as much savings as possible. If the markets started booming again like they were in the 1990s, we’d have enough sense this time around to sock it all away in the piggy bank and look to the future.

The secret to dealing with a true deep recession is to not spend all of your money or live a really lavish lifestyle supported by debt during times of plenty. Then, when things turn downward, you’ve got some wriggle room. By planning ahead, you eliminate the need to panic.

 

Can We Stop Fighting Yet?   9 comments

September 11, 2001 – Where were you and what did you do when you heard about the 911 attacks? What did you do to move on?

WordPress:



Custom Blog:


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

So I have previously blogged about my experience on September 11, 2001. I don’t wish to revisit those times, but to instead focus on healing, though as I typed this, four GA airplanes flew overhead in less than an hour, starkly reminding me of that day when the only planes in our hunting season sky were fighter jets.

Image result for image of 9-11Like virtually everyone else in the country, I was shocked, numb and confused on September 11. By September 12, I was grateful for everything I had. By September 18, I — along with almost everyone else in the country — was angry and wanted some payback.

A friend of mine had an uncle who had just retired from a financial firm with offices in the Towers. He had chosen “semi-retirement” as a mentor and he was supposed to be there that day for a morning meeting, but the weather was lovely and he decided to be decadent and go for a walk in the park instead. Thus, he was having breakfast when an airliner obliterated the boardroom where all of his colleagues were sitting. They never even got a chance to flee the building.

A coworker of mine had a brother who worked in the Pentagon building. His office was a long way from the center of operations, in the outside ring. He was invited down the hall for coffee and donuts to celebrate a coworker’s birthday and so he wasn’t in his office when it was destroyed by the terrorists using an airliner as a missile.

I live in a big military town, so I knew men and women who were almost immediately deployed to Afghanistan and who later returned emotionally and physically shattered.

I’ve also known at least a half-dozen contractors who spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq. One friend’s brother was killed over there. He was an unarmed electrician working to restore power to a city Saddam had deemed didn’t need power some 20 years before. He was up a telephone pole hooking up a transformer when a sniper shot him in the head.

Alaskans fly a lot and I am much more cognizant of what’s going on within an aircraft cabin than I used to be. I hate that I occasionally feel a moment of concern when certain types of men are on board. They’re probably innocent of what I am silently accusing them of. I get over it and I move on, but I won’t pretend it doesn’t happen. I’m told by two friends (one an immigrant from Iraq and another from Egypt) that they feel the same way in similar circumstances. They know they are not terrorists, but they aren’t so sure of Middle Eastern strangers, especially if they are speaking in Arabic. Our friend from Egypt can speak Arabic, so she says she always eavesdrops and always has had her fears allayed. She expresses sympathy for those of us who don’t have that skill. We’re not wrong to have those concerns, because we know for a fact that there were Middle Eastern passengers bent on our deaths. It’s foolish to think it can’t happen again.

But here’s the thing – over time, my anger waned and I began to realize that what we were doing “over there” wasn’t making us any safer and was probably making us less safe. My daughter and son are now of draftable age (women aren’t required to register yet, but they can be drafted – thank President Obama for doubling down on stupid) and I worry about them, which makes me more aware of the other mothers’ sons and daughters who might die or be maimed in wars that the United States has no business being in. You can disagree with me, but now that fracking has given the US the ability to  be a net exporter of oil (not that we are at the moment), why are we conducting these wars on foreign soil? We don’t need to. About one-quarter of the US debt is attributable to these wars we seem to have no intention of ever getting out of. The larger that debt grows, the more likely the country is to enter a Greater Depression from which long-term recovery is unlikely.

I had a Muslim coworker (Amisa) who I prayed with on that day 16 years ago. She is a nice gal who never meant anyone harm and she was as upset with what happened as we were. I knew “Mark” (Mahmood is his real name) for more than a decade before 9/11. I knew not all Middle Easterners were terrorists and I’ve had that long relationship to bring me back to sanity. I have since met Christine, who is from Egypt. I know other Middle Easterners on the Internet or through friends. My daughter belly-danced with some. I don’t excuse the behavior of terrorists, but I know they are a small fraction of the larger population. So I’m not angry at Middle Easterners or Muslims in general.

My faith teaches me to forgive and to hope for the future and I have tried to put that into practice. The world is probably no more dangerous than it was September 10, 2001. It just feels more dangerous. Human nature has sucked since the Fall. Why am I surprised that human beings can be so inhumane to human beings? I no longer want payback. I think my initial impulse was a mistake, but I also think the terrorists had payback coming and that the Afghan government should have gotten out of our way as we pounded Al Qaeda. Then we should have left and let them deal with the aftermath because at some level, the Afghanis were co-responsible for what happened. But 16 years of war … it shouldn’t have been longer than 16 months.

So, how did I get over it? I don’t think we as a nation or I individually are over it. It’s not over until we can move on and we can’t move on as long as we are continuing to devote blood and treasure “over there.” But, for myself … I don’t fear Muslims anymore than I fear other potentially unstable people. I carry concealed now in situations where mass shootings might occur and I’m not going to apologize for that. If someone opens up in a movie theater while you and I are watching a movie, I might just save your life. I am reminded of dark thoughts every time the TSA feels me up so I can get on an airplane. I object, but Alaska is not connected to the Lower 48 in a way that makes driving somewhere feasible, so … it seems a shame that we have to submit to sexual molestation in order to travel because we refuse to  effectively handle the threat that still exists. There are better ways to do it than treating law-abiding American citizens like potential terrorists, but ….

I’m writing a series about terrorism. I haven’t revealed who the terrorists are, but some of them are Middle Easterners and some of them are another cultural group or three. I incinerated 30 million people in the first book. But I also have a lovely Egyptian immigrant in the third book. Why? Because I don’t think Middle Easterners are all responsible for what happened.  I try to show people working together is the norm, but I admit, in the third book, that might not always be the case. In some sense, Transformation Project grew out of the events of September 11, 2001, because those events made me ask:

What would happen if …?

I think after 16 years, I am largely over 9-11, but let’s be honest here … none of us can really be over it until we finally stop killing Middle Easterners who object to our invading their countries. Then and only then will true healing actually begin.

Posted September 11, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , ,

Edit Ruthlessly   2 comments

As writers, we’re also readers. What is a common mistake you see in many books? Offer suggestions for making a change. You can even share a paragraph from a book and correct it.

WordPress:



Custom Blog:


An InLinkz Link-up

get the InLinkz code

Image result for image of manuscript editingI love to read and when I’m not writing, that’s often what I am doing. I love books by indie authors, but I also have favorites among the authors you’ll find in a mainstream bookstore.

Because I was trained in editing and have made my living at least partially editing the writing of others, I tend to notice errors and if they’re in a published book, they drive me crazy because I can’t fix them and, depending on the author, I wonder how they got past the professional editor.

Errors?

I have no opinion on the Oxford comma. They are forbidden in journalism writing, which is why I rarely use them, but it’s not technically an error to use it. If you don’t know what an Oxford comma is, google it. It’s useful information. My rare usage is reserved for those times when absolute accuracy matters.

So, what do I consider to be errors?

Well, there are the standard ones – were, where … there, they’re … it’s, its … affect, effect … lie, lay, laid, lain  — yes, those are different words with different meanings. Learn to use them correctly, authors! Grammar and spelling really do matter. Not all your readers are going to have editing skills, but they will enjoy your work more if grammar and misspelling errors don’t disturb their experience and that pays dividends. Learn the difference between a possessive word that ends with apostrophe then “s” (usually, with some exceptions like “its”) which is different from a contraction that might also end with an apostrophe “s”. Then there are plural words which still end in “s”, but have no apostrophe … ever. That frustrates me.

A while back, I was reading a novel by a traditionally published author and he had a huge continuity error in his book. Remember how in Lost the hatch took a lengthy hike to get to originally, but once they were using it all the time, they seemed to get to it in a few minutes of walking? That bothered me and this author’s error was similar. The rest of the book was good and I wouldn’t say don’t read it (which is why I’m not identifying it), but it did somewhat spoil my enjoyment of it.

In a similar vein, avoid anything that might knock the reader out of a willing suspension of disbelief. I was beta-reading a while back and the author used the American terms for currency throughout a fantasy novel. I understand why she did it, but it completely threw me out of the story. She admitted she did it for convenience sake and put some thought into a currency system for her world that will appear in the published book.

#1 Pet Peeve?

When I learned American Sign Language, I had to accept that some very similar seeming signs that sometimes have similar ways of speaking in English gloss very different concepts. For example, “see” and “look” are similar looking, but very different concepts and Deaf will laugh at you if you get them wrong.

  • “His eyes dwelt on her form.”
  • “His eyes ran along the floor.”
  • “His eyes were fixed on the sky.”

Well, let’s hope not. The hero should keep his eyes in his head. His gaze dwelt on her form. His gaze ran along the floor. His gaze was fixed on the sky. Let’s not give readers the word picture of eyes rolling around on the floor, cloud-hopping and/or groping maidens.

#2 Pet Peeve?

The overuse of the word “that” annoys me. For example, “that” isn’t needed after “said” about 99% of the time, yet even my graphic above uses it when it isn’t needed.

  • “It has been said that words are like inflated money …”
  • “It has been said words are like inflated money …”

There is a simple test for this. Can you think of any other verb that is normally followed by the word “that”?

  • “He climbed that the tree …” Nope
  • “She sang that the song …” Nope

You get my point, right?

Okay, so now you know. These things annoy me as a reader and I hope I avoid annoying others with same issues. Yes, we all make mistakes and an occasional typo making it to the finished book is understandable, but be ruthless with yourself so that you eliminate as few errors as possible.

Sherry Parnell

Author of "Let the Willows Weep"

Emerald Book Reviews

Book Reviews and Promotion Services

YA Chit Chat

The Ponderings of YA author J. Keller Ford

madchen863's Blog

Planet Earth: home of life

MIND MIX RADIO

Radio for the Awake and Aware

SHAKERS & MOVERS

Soweto isiPantsula Crew + Management

RedheadedBooklover

Just a redheaded woman who is obsessed with books

Mercedes Prunty Author

The Walking Mumbie

InsureZero Blog

All you need to know about Insurance

Creative Ideas for Starving Artists

Brain juice that revives and refreshes

Real Science

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts" - Richard Feynman

Marsha Ingrao

Traveling & Blogging Near and Far

Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." ~C.S. Lewis

Darlene Foster's Blog

dreamer of dreams, teller of tales

All About Writing and more

Advice, challenges, poetry and prose

Tapestry ~ Treasures

My life is but a weaving between the Lord and me!

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Echoes of Life, Love and Laughter

S.R. Mallery's AND HISTORY FOR ALL

Everything Historical And Much More...

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

%d bloggers like this: