Tips Tricks and Fantastic Finds

Today I have a plethora of things to tell you all about so settle in and stick with me, this might be a bit of a long one. Furthermore, it will spawn the full gamut of the reading and writing world.

First things first –

The Hook-

The hook is something we do over at Critique Circle monthly. Writers post up to the first 1000 words of their story and feedback is given anonymously. The purpose is to help the author know if the story hooks them or not. It’s aimed at authors who may want to query editors, agents, magazines, etc but I also found it pretty useful last month as someone heading towards self publishing. I think of it as a primer for amazon’s look inside feature. Now, full disclaimer – The hook is a very harsh, no frills queue. It made me pretty cranky last month but once I was done seething I could see that I got some very valuable feedback and I modified a bit of the opening to Cornerstone accordingly.

Even if you aren’t up for submitting, I am sure a few of the authors would be eternally grateful for each and every person that takes some time this weekend to pop into CC and help evaluate these story openers. That’s actually my plan for the weekend since I didn’t have anything I wanted to submit this go around.

Free Edit Software

Next up, remember how I saw Wordle mentioned over on Ink In The Book and I said it was the coolest thing ever? I’m afraid I need to revise that statement. While Wordle is without a doubt the coolest FUN toy and minor word analysis tool, I’ve found something even cooler in the category of functional. I discovered this extremely handy tool linked on the Kindle Writers Cafe.   It is fantastic for helping identify overused and repeated words and phrase, minor grammar issues, filler words, variance of sentence structure, etc.

Blog Redesign

I don’t know if you’ve noticed while reading or not, but my blog had a drastic makeover. What do you all think? My intention was to coordinate it with the brand spanking new, improved and fantastically moody artwork for Cornerstone. I’m definitely trying to create a brand here and this is just another part of that.

Is it something in the water?
Alright, if you don’t want to hear a rant you might want to exit this post now. Lately I don’t know what it is but every which way I look in the writing community something ticks me off. I am so sick and tired of the negativity I see pervading each and every corner of the the self publishing related forums and resources. Everything someone posts is met with such a high degree of suspicion and skepticism. It isn’t healthy for our readers and it isn’t healthy for us. It has been everything from authors attacking reviewers, reviewers attacking authors, Goodreads separating into a West Side Story style match off between rival factions to news articles and responses on paid reviews. It really all needs to stop. This past week I realized just how much the negativity had seeped through and started to color my own responses to things. First I got irate with a blog post by another self published author who was making some pretty asinine statements regarding the professionalism of sharing ideas and collective brainstorming between authors, and then I saw another author bemoaning a review, not because he thought her observations of his atrocious editing were unfounded, but because if you followed the breadcrumbs of her profile you could see that she was affiliated with an editing service. I’m sorry but self publishing isn’t an excuse to skip the necessary steps of the publishing process, it’s an invitation to oversee it yourself. And to top it off I’ve seen two incidents of cover artists doing disappearing acts on other authors. (Both after being paid for their work already!) My resolution for this week is that anything that makes me angry, I will simply walk away.

Map of the Three Corners
Speaking of artists, If all works out according to plan an illustration student, Turner Reeves is going to be creating an amazing map (way better than my feeble attempt) for the world Cornerstone is set in. 

Book Covers
And last but not least, if you haven’t seen the new artwork for Cornerstone, here it is. I may still change the font for my name at the top, not sure yet. If you want to see the fullsize art, it’s on the Cornerstone page. I did it myself and am really thrilled with how it came out. Also, I’ve been relying on photoshop to help me exhale some creativity when I need a break from looking at words. I’ve made a few book covers and they are available for Indie Authors at pretty cheap rates. If you are looking for something custom not premade let me know and we can work something out. 

Techy Stuff

Last but not least, a few keyboard shortcuts and tech savy sanity savers. Through my blog design endeavours this week I found that if you try and edit a post on your phone and it messes up the html, causing your sidebar contents to disapear and land below your list of posts, you have an open

tag. No fun. No fun at all. The good news is it is an easy fix. Find the post you edited and toggle between compose and html a few times and you’ll be repaired. Ugh.

Also, if you are working through a list of blogs or facebooks or twitters or whatever ( like on a social hop), middle clicking opens a page in a new tab and in firefox CTR W closes the current tab. Speaking of which, my FB and Twitter links are now in the top right corner of each of my blog pages, I’d love if you followed me.

Oh, and tried and true ease of formatting Ctr B is for BOLD toggle on and off and Ctr I is for ITALICS toggle on and off. Nifty huh?