Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You can teach an old dog...

I received the 4Play manuscript back from Ekatarina Sayanova, Editor-in-Chief of Red Quill Editing last Wednesday.  I am slowly working through her edits in an effort to absorb and retain as much as possible of the knowledge she is imparting.  It is my goal to not only end up with a better MS, but also to learn from my mistakes and avoid repeating them!  I am grateful she includes resource links that explain her corrections.

Here's a link to concise information regarding progressive verb tenses (something I'm not sue I ever knew.)  I would not bet the farm I won't get this wrong again.

My memory and I argued over "was" and "were" quite a few times while I was working on this piece.  My memory claims a junior high teacher told us when the phrase begins with "if", you should use "were".  Several times I could not make myself do it, if for no other reason than it sounded just plain wrong.  Turns out it is not a hard and fast rule and here's how to determine which to use

Stay tuned, more lessons to come

More about 4Play

The previously published story "Interview with The Mistress" will be re-released with the title "Interview with Mistress A."  I want to be very clear in the blurb to let prospective readers know that although the manuscript has been revised and content added, it's not a new story.

It's my favorite of the four stories, primarily because it's based on actual events and brings back fond memories of old friends.  It's the only one containing BDSM and f/f pairing in the collection and sold more copies than the other three combined.  I enjoy writing and reading D/s tales and plan to write more of Aleksandra's story in the future.

Excerpt from "Interview with Mistress A."

     She stomped over and stood in front of me, hands on hips, her brilliant green eyes flashing. “What about me?” she demanded.

     “What about you?” I wasn’t sure what she was asking.

     “If I were a client of yours, would you be tempted to break your rules?”

     As stunned as I was, I knew she wouldn’t be asking that question if she wanted my answer to be no. Moving quickly, I stood and spun her around and pulled her arms behind her back. Holding both her wrists in my left hand, I wrapped my right arm around the front of her body, keeping her motionless. I leaned down and spoke softly into her ear. “Of course I would. You are sexy, funny and smart, and I already care for you, but you are not my client. And you are not a submissive.”

     I could feel her breathing accelerate, her body tremble, and then she whispered, “How do we know?”

     I released her and turned her back around to face me. She was truly serious about this and having her body so close to mine had placed us on a path I found I wished to continue down. “Let’s find out then, shall we?”

      I felt myself slipping automatically into my familiar role. “Listen carefully. Go into your bedroom; pull the covers from the bed. Gather five long scarves and place them on the foot of the bed. Strip and kneel in the center of the bed facing the door with your eyes closed. Do not open them or speak until I give permission. Understand?” She nodded, eyes wide and a slight smile playing around the sides of her mouth. “Go quickly and show me you are capable of following instructions.” Starting out with a session barely off the vanilla scale seemed wise. If it turned out she wasn’t into it, I wanted to find out before doing anything hardcore.

     Her apartment was not large, so I could easily hear her movements as she hustled to obey my orders. I fixed myself a drink and wondered which of us was more excited. 
     Sounds coming from the bedroom ceased, and I went to see how well she had done. Comforter and top sheet removed, check. A pile of scarves waiting for my use, check. Vanessa kneeling, her golden skin glowing in the soft light of the bedside lamps. I’d seen her body before in the gym shower, but now I could take the opportunity to really look at her. What I saw was a lot of gorgeous in a tiny package. Reaching across the bed, I tipped her head downward and then tapped her knees. “Head bowed, back arched, legs apart. Submission 101.” Taking one of the scarves, I wrapped it around her head, blindfolding her. “Since we have no existing knowledge of your limits, we will learn as we go. If you are unsure, but wish to continue more slowly, say ‘yellow light’. If you want everything to stop and end the scene, say ‘red light’. Understand?” She nodded, remembering she had not yet been given permission to speak. “Good girl. You will answer this next question. Will I find a vibrator in your nightstand?” Her cheeks flushed, and a barely audible “yes” squeaked out. “Yes, ma’am or yes, Mistress is an acceptable response.

     “Yes, Mistress,” she replied with a little more confidence.

       She had a high-quality vibrator, which came as no surprise. In all things, Nessa had excellent taste. I switched it on and off, checking the battery strength; we were good to go. I ordered her to lie on her back with her arms and legs outstretched, and she immediately complied. I remember wondering if maybe there was truly some submissiveness in her…or if she was just getting into the role-play.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

*Dragging out my soapbox*

The Indie Author Group on Facebook is one of my favorite resources for information from other self-published authors, some with less experience than me, but most possessing far more.  What I like best about this group is advertising is not allowed.  Ever.  No posting links to your book, your blog, no sneaking around the rules to slip in a plug for your work.  If you try, it will be deleted. That means this site will not turn into one long stream of book ads as so many other sites have.  You can actually ask questions and authors will reply!  Sometimes the responses need weeding through; like I said, some of the members are well-meaning newbies.  It soon becomes easy enough to discern the voices of experience though.

Today, I posted this on the IAG page:
"I know it's near impossible to catch all the typos and misspellings in your own work, but if you're working with an editor and proofreader, how close to perfection is it reasonable to expect? How many errors in a novel do you consider to be too many?"

The responses were plentiful.  In fact, they maxed out the limit for number of comments and the post was closed.  Some folks, like me, have noticed an increase in errors in our reading material, whether self- or traditionally published.  Some commenters believed errors are inevitable and a minimal number should be tolerated.  Some said authors and publishers should still strive to present error-free material.  It's my goal to publish a clean manuscript which is one of the reasons I'm having my next release edited and proofread.  Even so, it's no guarantee and I will be searching for a few sharp-eyed readers before publication.

I've not read a single book this year that was without typos, misspellings, or words used incorrectly.  Many of those books had multiple sets of eyes on them - the author, beta readers, editors and proofreaders.  I should point out that I'm old broad and the books I grew up with, hell, the books I read up until 5 years ago, were print books. I do not remember them having this number of issues.  What happened when we went digital?  Did we lose something crucial when we lost typesetters?  Did we all get dumber, or are we all willing to now settle for less?

Whatever the reason, it makes me sad, but it also makes me more determined than ever to publish a clean copy.  If you read a story of mine and find an error, you will not piss me off if you notify me.  I will appreciate it and express my thanks..  To authors out there, get more and/or better proofreaders.  Don't forget to have someone proof your dedications and acknowledgements.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Editing services, a step in the right direction

As I've said before, like most new Indie authors, I attempted to do everything myself.  I made my own covers, I edited, I proofread, and I formatted.  Of the four short stories I published, two had decent covers, I found errors in all of them post-publication some of them embarrassingly obvious), but they all seemed to be formatted properly. Yay me, right?  When I made the decision to re-release the stories in a collection, entitled 4Play, I knew I needed to up my game.  Finally taking the advice of successful authors I've had the good fortune to meet, I had the cover for my next release created by an experienced cover designer (see June 17 post here).  The next logical step would be to enlist the services of a professional editor.

I know what you're thinking.  How can a newbie afford editing services?  I was certain I couldn't but I had been assuming it was out of my reach without ever actually looking into it.  What I found was a wide range of rates and services available.  Some charge by the page, some by the word, and some that fit within my budget.  How do you choose from a list of unknowns?  You ask other authors and make your questions the right ones.
  • Do you use an editor and if so, who?
  • Would you recommend your editor to others?
  • Do you feel you received the services you paid for?
  • What did you learn during the editing process?

Based upon recommendations, I contacted Red Quill Editing (visit RQE's website).  I spoke with Ekatarina Sayanova at length about my project, and together we determined what services would fit into my budget.  Here's where you need to be practical about the numbers.  Total up the expenses for your book.  Determine an appropriate list price for it, then calculate how many copies you'd need to sell to turn a profit, or at least break even.  In my case, it will be a tough go to make those sales, given I'm a new author and there is more supply than demand in my genre.  However, there will be times you have to invest in yourself.  If you think of your fledgling writing career as a business, most new businesses have to front load costs for the first two years  Worst case scenario is I will end up with a professional product in my catalog of which I can be proud and that makes it worth the money to me.

A funny thing happened as I prepared my manuscript before forwarding it to Red  Quill.  Even though each of the four stories had been reviewed, edited, and proofread multiple times before being published, I found I was looking at them through a different, more critical, lens.  I made a surprisingly large  umber of changes  Some were subtle, some significant, and a few were "oh, my God, what was I thinking?" moments.  I believe knowing my words were about to be seen by professionally knowledgeable eyes made me work harder.  I thought of it like the difference in how you straighten up your house before a friend stops by and how you clean when your mother is coming for a week.  Whatever he reason, my MS was better for it.  I'll be posting more on this topic as 4Play moves through the editing/proofreading pipeline.

A BLURB ABOUT 4PLAY - Coming in September
Can I pick a favorite story in this collection?  No, that would be like choosing a favorite dog among my pack.  I do often favor particular characters in a story or book, and usually not the main character for some unknown reason.  In the story "Second Chances," I am crazy fond of Claudette, the owner of the gentlemen's club where most of the action takes place.  She began life as a minor supporting character named Jessica with only a few lines.  Jessica didn't survive long in my imagination, poor thing, and when I changed her name to Claudette, she came to life fully formed.  I can clearly see her, a strong, proud, African-America woman of style and intelligence  Most importantly, her own life experiences made her supremely qualified to be the catalyst that would alter the destinies of Tracie and Adam.   Tough, demanding, yet graced with a mother's heart and compassion, Claudette rocks "Second Chances."