Guest Post: A Month in the Coop by Lucy Blue

The Alley would like to welcome the Little Red Hens! Today we have Lucy Blue here to talk about what a month in the coop looks like and to give you an excerpt from one of their latest releases! Please help me in extending Lucy an enchanting welcome! 


My sister, Alexandra Christian, and I have our very own micro-press, Little Red Hen Romance, through which we deliver our brilliance to a grateful public. At the risk of rendering you all mute and paralyzed with envy, let me give you a rundown of what that means exactly, an average “month” in the life in the Coop.

Week One: What In the Name of the Benedict Cumberbatch’s Quirky Brand of Handsome Are We Going to Put Out Next Month?

Every publishing cycle begins with a lunch meeting conducted in the glamorous abandoned file room full of broken office furniture at the back of Lexie’s day job. Specifics vary, but here’s our basic agenda:

  1. What the heck are we doing this for?
    • We aren’t making any money
      1. Amazon are f*ckers
        • Kindle Unlimited can kiss my a$$
      2. We pay more for cover art than we make every month
    • You’ve got to at least finish your d@mned series
    • I’m still working on that other thing
    • Let’s give it another month
  2. Do we have a theme?
    • Holiday?
    • Is a new season of Sherlock about to come out?
    • I’m still having that Russell Crowe cowboy dream
  3. Do we have anything already written?
    • Sure <maniacal laughter>
      1. I’m still working on that thing
      2. I can dig out my old computer from the attic; I think there’s a story on the hard drive
      3. I still have that thing I didn’t finish when we did this theme last year
    •  Nope
      1. Brainstorming
      2. As long as we put SOMETHING out, we’re fine
  4. Deadlines <laughing so hard soda comes out our noses>

By the time we both have to go back to work at the jobs that actually pay us, we have a pretty good idea where we’re headed. Sometimes it’s not even straight off a cliff. And even if we don’t know at the end of the meeting, we know by the end of that first week.

For example, for Halloween in October, we knew we wanted to do a LRH Nightmare anthology (when it’s your press, you can make up as many imprints as you like!) instead of a handful of standalone shorties. I had a couple of things that were a lot harder and more horrific than our norm that LRH had never published; Lexie had a couple of erotic horror shorts that had been released back to her from the exploding wreckage of her former publisher, and we had several horror-themed shorties in our back catalog that hadn’t been in an anthology yet. So we thought, awesome, all we need is a cover, and we’re done! Except… because we’re masochistic geniuses, we realized we wanted to do some kind of framing story that would give the anthology as a whole some kind of throughline theme beyond “scary sexy stuff!” We talked about the Crypt Keeper and about the awesome Hansel and Gretel riff in the Tales from the Darkside movie, and Lexie had an amazing idea for a story about a haunted writer’s desk that we both loved.

But once she started writing, we realized that 1) it would make a dang fine novel, and 2) she’d never finish it in time to get an anthology out before Halloween, and even if she did, it would take up more space than the stories it was introducing. I was at that same time completely exasperated with the production company that’s filming a horror TV show for pay cable in our small town, and I started fantasizing about a fate worse than death for their lead location producer. And out of that, in the space of a couple of days, came “Living Dead Girl,” the black comedy frame for Until Death. Lex’s desk story was way more complex and interesting, and I hope she’ll finish it. But we needed something NOW.

Weeks Two through Three (or Four or Five): Writing, Compiling, and Covers, Oh My!

This is where I highly recommend working with your very talented sibling. Lex and I have very similar writing styles; we love one another’s work; and we trust one another’s judgment completely. Consequently, we can trade rough first drafts and do edits for one another very, very quickly; we can communicate problems almost by osmosis and get them fixed. I would dearly love to hire another set of talented eyeballs to do edits for us, and I still hope at some point we’ll be able to do that. We both know the mechanics. I have a master’s degree in English lit and used to teach composition; she has a degree in education and used to teach kids how to write; we’ve both published lots of stuff with big, traditional publishers as well as indies; and we each have a fair amount of experience editing other people’s fiction. But we still need another editor. (Enchanted Alley piping in here… I KNOW AN EDITOR!) The same connection that makes editing each other comfortable cheats us of all the many benefits of a truly objective point of view. But right now, we don’t make enough money to pay somebody else, nor do we have the time to give another editor a turnaround schedule that is anything close to reasonable.

This is also when we start working on covers. Again, we do our own because we can’t afford to pay somebody else. (Though my husband the artist has stepped in more than once to help us out with stuff we couldn’t manage.) We try to find stock art that already hews very closely to the vision we have so we don’t have to do much blending of images or many effects—I’m still using Gimp, and I’m not what you’d call proficient. We spend hours going through page after page of imagery to find stuff that will look clean and original, then try hard not to screw it up. With Until Death, Lexie offered to do the cover since I was writing the frame, and I think she did an amazing job. She found an image called “Romantic Zombie” (Andrey Kiselev/Dreamstime.com) and dirtied up fonts and played with colors until she got what I think suits the stories inside perfectly.

Week Four (or Five or Six or Seven): To Market, To Market

Once we have clean versions of each story and covers we like, it’s time to publish. We do everything through Amazon through my Kindle Direct Publishing account. Amazon are indeed f*ckers, and we’d love to expand out to other platforms. But the sad truth is, everybody either has a Kindle or the Kindle app on their non-Kindle e-book-reading device. (The main alternative I’m interested in exploring at this point is iTunes, but they’re f*ckers, too.) As much as I’d love to have a couple of hours every week to exchange emails with a reader who’s trying to open my book on her Cricket phone after downloading it from Alice The Much Nicer E-Bookstore Owner’s World of Romance website, I just don’t. We use my KDP account so we have everything plugged into Amazon’s excellent sales and royalty tracking resources. We can tell exactly how many sales we have all over the world almost the moment they happen. (Lexie either has one reader in Denmark who compulsively checks Amazon to download her stuff as soon as it comes out, or she’s HUGE with an extensive cult of Danes.) Uploading the stuff is very easy—all you need is a cover created to the Amazon specifications (very easy to find on the KDP website), a Microsoft Word version of the story (including any table of contents—Amazon does the conversion for you), all your frontispiece information (authors, editors, etc.), and seven little keywords. Things usually show up on Amazon within 12-24 hours.

We’re constantly marketing stuff, of course, but this is also the week we get serious about that new release, using social media a lot, offering to write blog posts for dear friends kind enough to let us. But I can’t stress enough that marketing isn’t something that you do one book at a time one month at a time; we are constantly on the lookout for ways to get all of our releases in front of the eyeballs of readers who will love them.

I don’t know that I’d advise anybody to take up self-pubbing right now or start their own indie press, even with their darling sister. It’s a much tougher, much crazier market than it was just a few years ago. But all griping aside, we HAVE found a lot of readers, and we ARE publishing exactly the stories we want to publish in exactly the way we think they should be done. And for now, that still makes it worth the aggravation. Next month, we might quit, but for now, we’re thinking about Christmas.

Find us at our website at: http://lucybluecastle.wixsite.com/littleredhenromance or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/littleredhenromance/ .

until-death-1And check out this snippet from “Living Dead Girl,” the frame story from our latest collection, Until Death: An Anthology of Twisted Love Stories, available now from Amazon:

“That’s supposed to be a love story?” he said, feeling a little sick.

“Of course it is,” she said. Her zombie make-up was horrifying; his crew was talented. But her eyes shining in the moonlight were almost enough to make him not notice. “Rhett’s love for Cynthia was so strong, even after she died, it could sustain an immortal sex demon. That’s beautiful.”

“If you say so,” he said. Twisted but cute, he thought. “I guess that’s what I get for looking for love advice from a zombie.”

“True love is everywhere,” she said. “Anything can bring two people together if they’re meant to be, even zombies.”

“Yeah, that’s what the writers tell me,” he said. “Then half a season later, they kill off the love interest, and the internet goes crazy.”

“I know a story of two people who never would have stayed together if they hadn’t been attacked by zombies,” she said.

“Real zombies?” Maybe too twisted after all.

“Well….my grand-daddy said they were real,” she said. “But he used to tell me spaghetti grows on trees, so I’m not sure we should believe him. It’s a good story, though, a western. You want to hear it?”

The set-up was still at least an hour from being ready. “Sure, why not?”

 

Blog Tour: David B. Coe, The Outlanders

The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome David B. Coe!

David is here today as a stop on his blog tour for the newly re-released edition of The Outlanders! He’ll be talking to us about the things he’s learned since The Outlanders was originally released — things about writing, about publishing, and about the facing the challenge of returning to your earlier works once you’ve learned a few things. 

About THE OUTLANDERS!

Four years after the insidious, devastating invasion by agents of Lon-Ser, Tobyn-Ser’s Order of Mages and Masters is riven by conflict and paralyzed by inaction. From the outlander, Baram, they have learned much about their neighbor to the west: Unlike Tobyn-Ser, which is served by the Mage-Craft of the Children of Amarid, Lon-Ser is devoid of magic. Instead it possesses a dazzling and deadly technology that shapes every aspect of its people’s daily life.
Frustrated by the Order’s inability to act, Orris, a young, rebellious mage, takes it upon himself to prevent further attacks on his homeland. Taking Baram from his prison, he embarks upon a perilous journey to Bragor-Nal, an enormous, violent city in Lon-Ser, ruled by a brutal, feudal-like system of Break-Laws, Nal-Lords, and Overlords. As Orris soon learns, however, Baram has been driven insane by his captivity. Upon reaching his strange and fractured homeland, the man abandons Orris.
Armed only with his magic, Orris is thrust into a world whose language he does not comprehend and whose technology he can barely fathom. Together with Gwilym, a man with strange powers, whose vision of Orris has lured him out of the mountains and into the chaos of the Nals, and Melyor, a beautiful Nal-Lord who harbors a secret that could cost her life, Orris must end the threat to Tobyn-Ser without getting himself and his companions killed.
THE OUTLANDERS is the second volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle, David B. Coe’s Crawford Award-winning debut series. This is the Author’s Edit of the original book.

And without further ado, here’s David! 

“Lessons Learned in the Writing Trade”

by David B. Coe

I have recently released the Author’s Edit of The Outlanders, the second novel in my very first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. This follows the re-release of Children of Amarid, book I in the series. Book III, Eagle-Sage, should be re-released in December. These books are incredibly special to me. They launched my career, won me the Crawford Fantasy Award as best new author (this was back when novels were still published on granite tablets), and established my career critically and commercially.

But I also recognized from the time I wrote the books originally that they suffered from many of the flaws that afflict first novels. They were earnest, ambitious, and in many ways quite good, but they were also wordy, overwritten, and longer than they needed to be. Hence the Author’s Edit of the new versions. The Author’s Edit is kind of like the Director’s Cut of a movie — I have revised the books to make them more readable without, I hope, compromising them in any way when it comes to essential story elements like plot, setting, character, pacing, etc. I was able to do this now because at this stage in my career, after writing nineteen novels over as many years, I’ve learned a thing or two about writing and storytelling.

So, I thought it might be helpful to look at some of what I’ve learned and at a few of the lessons I was able to apply when I edited these beloved but imperfect early novels.

  1. Less is more — One of the things I did in editing these books was remove exposition, adverbs, and unnecessary dialog tags including gestures and facial expressions. Not all of them, but enough that the new version of The Outlanders is some 14,000 words shorter than the original. Children of Amarid I cut by 20,000 words. Why? Because readers don’t need to be told every little thing. For instance, sometimes — most times if we’re doing it correctly — dialog conveys meaning through wording and context. We can usually tell from what a character says whether she is angry or sad or joyful. In the original versions I put in so many expressions and gestures that my characters read as caricatures, their facial expressions changing with every word until they seemed like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. “Less is more” means what it sounds like. I could get away with describing fewer of those expressions and gestures without losing meaning. The result is a cleaner, leaner manuscript.
  1. Trust your reader — This is something my editor told me a lot while working on those early books. Readers don’t need to have every little storytelling nuance explained to them. In fact, as with “Less is more,” if we do our jobs as authors we shouldn’t have to explain much at all. Readers can figure out from dialog, from action, from the little details we show, from limited internal monologue, all that they need to follow our stories. We need to trust their ability to intuit what they need to know. Overtelling, pointing out the already obvious, undermines our writing. In a sense, “Trust your reader” is another way of saying “Trust yourself.” Err on the side of telling too little. Let your story speak for itself. And if your Beta readers or your editors don’t understand something, they’ll let you know and you can bolster the narrative with a bit more exposition.
  1. Don’t overuse adverbs — Some people will say that we should NEVER use adverbs. That’s ridiculous. Sometimes adverbs add to our readers’ understanding of context, scene, and emotion. The danger lies in overuse of adverbs. The problem with adverbs is that when used too often they become of symptom of showing rather telling. I used way too many in the original versions of these books and I removed a lot of them in the edits. Some remain, and they add to the narrative. You don’t need to ban them from your writing entirely (see what I did there?); just beware of them.
  1. Reach high, push yourself — This is actually a lesson I was reminded of in reading through these old books, a lesson from my younger self to my older self. They were ambitious novels that demanded a lot of me when I wrote them. I sometimes wonder if my more recent books have been too “safe” in a way, and I am currently writing a new epic fantasy that is as sprawling and far-reaching as these early efforts. And I’m having a blast. So if you sense something lacking in your current work-in-progress, maybe you need to push yourself a bit harder. You might be surprised by how much fun you’ll have if you do.

Lessons learned. Every writing project teaches me something new, whether I’m editing or writing. I love that about this craft. It keeps my work fresh, and it keeps me feeling challenged. As long as that continues to be the case, I’ll keep writing.

Thank you, David!

Everyone here at the Enchanted Alley hopes you will be writing for a very long time. 


About the Author

CoeJacksonPubPic1000-150x150.jpg

David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen fantasy novels. As David B. Coe, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first two books, Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes came out in 2015. The third volume, Shadow’s Blade, has recently been released. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and Dead Man’s Reach.

David is also the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he is in the process of reissuing, as well was the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.


Where to find David online


Essential Information

The_Outlanders-ebook-cover-199x300.jpg

Title: THE OUTLANDERS (The LonTobyn Chronicle, Book 2)

Author: David B. Coe

Publisher: Lore Seekers Press

Price: $4.99 eBook/ $18.95 Paperback

Length: 561  pages

ReleaseDate: October 2, 2016

ASIN: B01M0ZQPZ9

Goodreads link

Purchase links
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million


Let’s Talk Promotions is also sponsoring a tour-wide giveaway. Click below for more information and to enter. 

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Book Review: Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

20370505

 

Everything that Remains is the most life-changing book I have ever read.


From The Minimalists’ website:

What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore.

Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism…and everything started to change.

That was four years ago. Since, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career.

So, when everything was gone, what was left? Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn’s best friend of twenty years.


The Enchanted Alley’s Review:

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (AKA The Minimalists) published their “memoir” Everything that Remains to tell the story of how they went from corporate ladder climbing, overweight, unhappy, debt-riddled folks to embracing life and living purposefully and meaningfully.

The book is written from Joshua’s point of view, but there are endnotes that are interjections by Ryan along the way.  (Quite humorous interjections, at times.)

The story tells of how Joshua (or “Millie” as he is often called in the book) came to become a minimalist, how Ryan also became a minimalist, and how they developed their website and publishing company.  It not only shows their transformation, but it also shows how they approach life differently — how they approach possessions, food, relationships, and even the internet differently! Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Minimalism changed their lives, much like reading this book and seeing them on tour a few months ago has changed mine.  Like many readers, I can see myself in their story.  And I can see the potential for change.

Essays on the topics addressed in the book can be found on their website, but I still highly recommend reading this narrative.  Reading the story from beginning to end and seeing how all the parts fit together change the impact of the story.  It’s more visceral, real, meaningful.

If there is one book that you read this year, it should be this one.  


20370505Essential Info:

Title:  Everything that Remains

Authors: The Minimalists: Joshua Fields Millburn with interjections by Ryan Nicodemus

Publisher: Asymmetrical Press

Length: 216 pages

Price: $7.01 Kindle

Release Date: January 1, 2014

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE

ConCarolinas 2014: Editors and Agents

This is the last post from ConCarolinas 2014.

This panel was about Editors and Agents, and the panel was mostly question/answer style.  They talked about agents first, then editors.  It could have gone on for two hours instead of just one.  People had lots of questions.

The panelists were: Edmund Schubert, Sharon Stogner, Faith Hunter, Emily Leverett, and Greg Rinehart.

Some keys points:

  • In an anthology, the first and last stories are the prime spots.
  • Everyone needs an editor; the biggest complaint is editing.

Topic 1: What is the best way to get representation?  Do you really need it?

In traditional publishing, you need an agent to keep your head on straight.  In small press, 99% don’t need an agent.  Self-published authors do not need an agent.

You should have a good relationship with your agent.  Become friends.  Faith said that she would not have progressed in her career without an agent.

You don’t need an agent for short stories.  Agents make 15% of what you make, so they don’t want to work for pennies.

The agent is the representative between you and New York.  They help you read and understand contracts.

Agents are often former editors, so they have connections.

An auction is the best case scenario, and agents have the ability to get that going.

Know the preference of the house you are selling to.  Baen, for example, if you sell it, they want to talk only to you, not an agent you get later.  If the agent sells it, then they’ll talk to you both.  Baen is an important place to look.  They treat their writers like family, and they can build your career.

Some small presses can be bad.  They don’t know what they’re doing, but every large press started out as a small press…

Remember, money flows to the writer.  (Unless you are hiring someone to do a task like edit.)

The Big Five (traditional publishing houses) – you have to have an agent or know people.  How do you get to know people?  Cons!

If you get a letter that says to query again, do it!  They don’t send those often.

Research.  Look at the internet.  You’ll learn stuff.  Do your homework.

Only about 1% makes it through the slush pile.  Be sure to follow the guidelines.  Even when you know someone, follow the guidelines.

In many cases, slush readers need to reject 40 manuscripts per hour!

Topic 2: Should I edit it before sending?

Yes!

Look for beta readers, or hire a freelance editor.

The most important things are story arcs, character arcs, loose ends, voice change, boring parts (lagging arc), etc.

Later work on wording, grammar, consistency with eye color, etc.

A good editor will see, identify, and explain how to fix it.  They won’t fix it for you.

Cover matters just as much as editing.

Even if you do this, you will still get rejected.

If you can’t wallpaper a room with rejection letters, you’re not a writer.

Form rejection letter: time saver.

Personalized feedback: compliment.

 

Thanks for reading!  I will have more information to share after I attend ConGregate in July!  I hope you all enjoyed the posts from ConCarolinas as much as I enjoyed attending the panels.

ConCarolinas 2014: Killing Characters

Panelists: David Weber, Tamsin Silver, David B. Coe, A.J. Hartley, John Hartness

Moderator: Allen Wold

Question 1

At some point in your story, someone will die.  How do you know who will die and how they will die?

David Weber:

When you’re writing military/combat, people will die or it is too sanitized.

There are two extremes to writing a death.

  1. There and gone.  There’s no reason.  It’s unexpected.  The plot strings are not tied off.  It hits the reader unexpectedly.
  2. The death of a character that the readers are connected to.  Must have a good death.  They have to go out doing something significant.  It concludes their story arc.

David B. Coe:

In a mystery, murder starts the story.  It is like a time clock (plot device) for the protagonist.

A writer shouldn’t just kill another character because the clock is ticking.  Try to get closer to the protagonist with each death.

Tamsin Silver: 

There are casualties of war.  People die serving what they believe in.

The death of others moves the characters, whether for good or bad.

John Hartness:

In Sci-fi and Urban Fantasy, the writer lives and dies by the series.  Characters grow and develop.

Learn, live, lose = how a protagonist evolves.  (Harry Dresden is the example)

Torture the characters to torture the readers.

We’ve all lost people. 

You have to be able to show your character is as real as the real world.

The death of characters moves the main characters along.

Question 2

What genre do you write? And how does death factor in?

A.J. Hartley:

Comedy is not just about being funny.  It’s about how the story ends.

If you want the emotional weight of death, there are ways to do it without killing.

The idea of a sacrifice is the core of a good character dying well.

Question 3

How do you feel about the enemy characters that you have to kill?

A.J. Hartley:

Someone will cry.  Someone will care about the person.

The villains should be real people too.

John Hartness:

In my books the villains are monsters.  Monsters bad.  Shoot it.

Killing a named villain is just as hard or you cheat everyone.

“We’re all servants of the stories…and the royalties.”

Actions have consequences.  The person who cries at the crime scene may become the next villain.

Death creates in its own way.  It can create a new hero or a new villain.

David Weber: 

Most bad guys don’t wake up evil.

Have to have good on one side and evil on the other; dehumanize the other side so they’re easier to kill.

David B. Coe: 

Death for Ethan (in Thieftaker) also affects readers.  Death is binary; people are not.

All the characters have dark sides and flaws.

Everyone he is forced to deal with as an antagonist is the hero of his/her own story.

David Weber: 

In monsters, the sense of empathy has been destroyed.  They’re a destroyed human being.  We rejoice when they go.

David B. Coe: 

Example: the horcrux in Harry Potter.  It gives immortality but is a broken soul.

The big killing in Thieftaker is done with blood magic.  If you take a life with a spell, it’s stronger.

(SPOILER ALERT!)

Ethan is forced to kill a neighborhood dog.

He essentially casts a spell that makes him brother to the man he’s fighting.  He broke his own cardinal rule.  It still affects him three books later.

John Hartness: 

This is done really well because it is not done as a throwaway character.

A.J. Hartley: 

In the Will Hawthorne series, he is an 18-year-old actor. To protect himself and his people, he kills someone in a fight.

It must be an immense event for the character.

He’s not a sociopath…yet.

John Hartness: 

Characters do stuff they don’t want to do.

Example: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Some people just needed killing.

Also, sometimes the killing action is a non-action.  Don’t throw the life-preserver.  Character is passively killed off.

Question 4

Can you kill a main character?

John Hartness: 

Screw you, Jim Butcher.

David Weber: 

If there’s a character you’ve groomed to step into place, maybe.

It’s very risky.

David B. Coe:

If you’re working with a multi-POV book, each character should have his/her own arc.

The arc may end but not be finished.

Example: Macbeth.  Lady Macbeth’s death happens off stage.  The payoff isn’t the death but the character’s reaction.

Serve the story!

Question 5

When does death cheat the audience?

John Hartness: 

When the buildup or consequences are not done well.

David Weber: 

All readers read uniquely.  They may not see it as we wrote it.   We need to write it well so that different readers’ needs are met.

 

 

 

ConCarolinas 2014: Live Action Slush, Round 2

If you haven’t read about the first round of live action slush, you can read about it here.  This round continued where the first round left off.  It seemed a couple of the pieces didn’t have their human present though.  But the info was still great!

In this round, the reader was A.J. Hartley.  Hearing some of the southern style writing read in a British accent was pretty hilarious too.  I wish I could have recorded some of it! (But that wasn’t allowed so everyone would feel safe having their work read aloud.)

The critics were the same three from round one: Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and David B. Coe.

Here we go!

 

Slush #1

  • In a battle, sentences should be short and fast.
  • When you’re in combat, the only thing you’re thinking about is living to the next heartbeat.

Slush #2

  • Don’t single space.
  • Too much world building and description at the beginning will not sell.
  • Wordiness is bad.
  • Don’t end a sentence with about. (like I just did?)
  • First sentence shouldn’t be long.
  • There’s too much description and no action.

Slush #3

  • Wow. Ravens. Wow.

Slush #4

  • Wow again.
  • Comment from writer of the piece – you know how Stephen King said you have to write a million shitty words to get to the good stuff?  This is about a million five.

Slush #5

  • The big moment got lost.
  • Too much wordiness.
  • Poor organization of necessary info.
  • Watch word repetition and boring description.
  • Needs to be more sparse.
  • Know your weapons.

Slush #6

  • Sparse room doesn’t exists – sparsely furnished room does.
  • Watch out for inconsistent descriptors because they will kick the reader out of the story.
  • First page must be absolutely perfect.

Slush #7

  • At times you want to withhold from the reader, not on the 1st page though.
  • Watch for mood shifts.
  • Remember bait and hook.

Slush #8

  • Need to be clear who the main character is.
  • Find your point of view character.
  • Watch out for the comma splice.  Major error.

Slush #9

  • What’s the point of view?
  • Nothing’s happening.
  • Editors won’t be patient waiting for something to happen.
  • First person, present tense not in style.  (past is preferred)
  • Don’t put self description on the first page.
  • Beautiful women who don’t know they’re hot?  Please.  (That was A.J.’s comment)
  • The panelists (maybe A.J.?) also pointed out that female characters get described by how they look.  Men don’t.

Slush #10

  • Needs intimacy, not distance.
  • Show rather than tell.
  • Description sets the stage for the whole book.

Slush #11 (they were starting to rush at this point because we were out of time)

  • Don’t trivialize the description.

Slush #12

  • This one was hilarious.
  • Humor is good when done right.
  • People wanted more. (I wanted to read more too!)

Thanks for reading!  The Magical Words group said that they plan to do more of these in July at ConGregate, so I will be sure to take notes then too!  They said they might even take a video to share if it’s all right with the writer.