Re-Writing

I’m beginning an overhaul of my first self-published piece: Dragon on My Neck. I absolutely adore this book. The characters are large pieces of myself and I cringe every time I think about this re-write…but then I read bits and pieces of the book and cringe even more. I was a totally different writer 7 years ago! My writing has evolved and matured and is (hopefully) much smoother and just all around BETTER at this point. This writing maturity has come from living more, reading more, writing more…and, more specifically, writing more pieces of the over arching story of The Stone Dragon Saga. So, perhaps, knowing what I know now will help me to create a more streamlined book? Or maybe I will trash the rewrite and keep the original? I don’t know yet, but I do have a question for you, my friends:

As a writer, do you ever go back and completely re-write something like this? If you are not a write, but a reader, do you ever wish the author had rewritten a book?

Let me know!

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Can I (An Author) Respond to Reviews?

Should Authors Respond to Reviews, EVER???

As I was scrolling through a certain social media site this morning, I ran across a posted article by BookRiot and entitled “Dear Authors: Don’t Respond to Goodreads Reviews.” Written by Brenna Clark Gray and originally published on July 10, 2015, this article discussed a certain author ‘going off’ on a reviewer. Using this as a basis for her opinion, Ms. Grey proceeded to conclude that authors should not respond to any reviews, good or bad, because even to say thank you is to intrude on the reviewers “reviewing space” which, apparently, could be compromised and their ability to write a completely honest review would fly out the window (I’m rephrasing here but I believe that was the basic gist of the paragraph.)

If you would like to read the article, click – here– to do so. I would also like to suggest that you go on to the Book Riot Facebook page – here – and find this post to read the comments. While a few seem horribly venomous and slightly under-educated about the idea, the comments really serve as a good cross-section of research for readers’ feelings on the subject.

The comments on that post were honestly what made me think more on this topic. The idea that an interaction with an author, no matter how respectful it is, could make someone uncomfortable is something I really had never thought of. As both an author and an avid reader, I’ve always nerded out at the littlest minute possibility that my writing heroes noticed my existence! But then again, I don’t believe that I ever told them they were stupid and uneducated, which some of the reviewers do on occasion.

So what answer have I come up with after pondering this question for a few hours? What has my reading and writing brain concluded? Well, in my semi-expert (in my own mind anyway) opinion: Go for it! Answer those reviews respectfully. But DO NOT ANSWER THEM IMMEDIATELY!

What I mean by this is not that you should look at an absolutely horrid 1-star review that gives no reasons for their loathing of your life’s work other than the idea that you were born without a brain and a chicken quite possibly transcribed your story, stew on it for a few hours, and then write a well worded, scathing, and absolutely equally horrid response insinuating that the reviewer is, in fact, living with the half brain donated by their family’s beloved pet donkey. No. That is, in fact, a very poor plan. Because however else I feel about Ms. Grey’s article, I 100% agree with the statement that no matter what the outcome, an author who responds in such a manner will be hurt by it.

Do NOT tell them how stupid they are. Someone who can’t spell basic words once reviewed a book of mine a trashed it. They claimed the book was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes and that it took away from the story. However, they rated it a 3 star and proceeded to state that they had bought the other two books and were currently reading the second (at the time). I wailed and went off about that for days. However, I did not respond (ok…I may have responded and then immediately deleted my response). That kind of back and forth will probably never do any good and even hollering about my degree in education, heavy on English and Music would only serve to make me look worse.

So what, then, do I mean? If we can’t respond to the uglies, what can we do? We can cry, scream, cuddle those stuffed animals saved from our childhood that we swear are only there to inspire our next great children’s book…and then we can move on to other reviews. The reviews that include reasons for the low rating, questions about areas in the book that confused them, or even glowing recommendations. These are something that might provide for a GOOD interaction with our readers. For these, I would suggest reading them multiple times, letting the questions or comments simmer, and then writing out a respectful response that asks for more detail about where/what their complaint pertains to in the story or answering their questions. If you cannot do this in a respectful, kind manner then DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL! However, if you can respond appropriately, this can lead them to connect with you on other sites, possibly even garnering recommendations or new readers.

Additionally, if they have specifically commented on something they enjoyed about your story responding with a little information about that segment, a little behind-the-scenes backstory, can create a bit of a bond between reader and author. It gives them a peek into your process and allows for a respectful and friendly back and forth. This can also lead to them recommending you to their friends, following you on social media, and possibly even becoming a new reader buddy.

You must use your best judgement though! Please, please don’t force yourself to respond to people if you don’t feel like it. Some people say that authors should put their work out into the world and never look back, letting their ‘baby’ fly on alone. I don’t believe that those people have ever spent what feels like an eternity writing, re-writing, editing, revising, sending out, reading rejection letters, formatting, and printing pieces of their souls. I could be wrong about that though. It is all a matter of personal opinion. This post, as pretty much everything else I write, is my own opinion.

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Please use self-control and self-policing here. Our goal is not to scare readers or make a bad name for ourselves, it is to help ourselves grow as authors. If you do not feel comfortable responding to reviewers or feel as though you would be nasty to them, then please don’t force yourself to respond on my account! Remember, you can usually also send a private message to the reviewer if you would like to quietly and without fanfare ask for specifics from their reviews. That can sometimes be the best option. IF you do ask for their specifics in order to look it back over, please consider also sending them a note that you’ve revised that section or asking them read the possible revisions so that you know if it works better in the new format or wording. You may have just located a new Beta reader with fresh eyes for your work.

Have any thoughts on this topic?? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Until then, may you be blessed with great reviews and fabulous bursts of inspiration.

 

Fresh Bread + Books = This Post

I decided to watch a few BookTube videos as I was getting ready this morning, which is fairly normal for me, and managed to mis-read the title of one such video from ‘fresh reads’ to ‘fresh breads.” I re-read the title, watched the video, and giggled at myself…but the title “Fresh Breads” wouldn’t stop tapping at my brain. What could I do with this title? Could I turn ‘fresh breads’ into something bookish and/or writish without writing a short story about baking bread because, let’s face it, I don’t want to write a story about baking bread right now.

So…I came up with a sort of tag post (which I will probably turn into a video later). Here it goes:

Writing:

When you bake bread, much like when you write, there are several ingredients you must include no matter what type of goody you’re cooking up.

  1. Flour – Flour contains starches and proteins that are ultimately responsible setting the finished products volume, texture, and appearance. Name something in your current WIP that acts in the same way and ‘sets’ the finished product.

                                         I love the way Grandpa P interacts with the two 9 year old protagonists of the story. To me, his quirky and gentle spirit melds well with his adventurous side and helps the boys rise to the occasion, allowing them to find what they need and ‘setting’ the story. 

2) Salt – Salt is used to balance the yeast and boost flavors. Name something in your writing (style or current WIP) that helps to keep the balance or boost the narrative.

Sarcasm balances everything out…sarcasm and music :p

3) Yeast – Many breads use yeast to ferment the carbohydrates in dough and convert them to carbon dioxide bubbles, which makes the dough rise. What is a basic element in your writing (style or habit in general) that helps your story(ies) to rise?

I love the way words feel when they nestle in just right together. The way they trip and dance and snuggle in all the right ways. I like to think that my use of language employs that love and helps my writing style to rise.

4) Sweetener – Breads often include sugar, honey, or another type of sweetener to give them a flavor boost. What is something that ‘sweetens’ your writing?

An attempt at attention to details by showing the reader things the characters are seeing and hearing…or not paying attention to. Hopefully that little extra umph will sweeten the deal. 

5) Extras (fruit, nuts, meat, etc.)  – Many breads include sweet or savory elements that add an extra pop of flavor to the bread, making it into more of a meal or dessert. Name something about your current WIP that adds that element to nudge your story over the top.

One has pirate treasures and adventure to a soundtrack of classic rock songs, another has wild animals and great illustrations (thanks to my Mom! YAY Becky Tyree!), and finally the third WIP has magic and past lives that creep into mundane existences and turn us all around. 

Reading:

There are an incredible number of varying bread types throughout the world. Sweet, savory, and in-between these can be full meals, sweet treats, and even a daily supplement. The same goes for reading. These questions compare a few types of warm yummy bread to reading.

  1. Quick Bread – light, airy, and quick to make, this bread is often turned in to rolls, biscuits, coffee cake, etc. and is often a favorite of bakers and eaters alike. Name a book or genre that you consider to be like quick bread.

Contemporary reads, especially romances. I don’t often read them but there are a few on my shelf, just in case.

2) Rye Bread – a denser, more strongly flavored bread that comes in either dark or light varieties and can be spiced to add flavor and color. Name a book, series, or genre that you could see described like this.

This feels like Fantasy/Sci-Fi to me. There are so many different levels and sub-genres that can be visited here. For a book or a series, think about the difference between Tolkien’s LOTR and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. 

3) Sweet Bread – created with sweetened dough, toppings, and/or fillings, sweet breads are often baked into decorative shapes (such as animals etc). Name a book that felt shaped  and stuffed with sweetness.

I was originally going to say something about romances again, but I think I’m going to go with a classic and choose “Little Women” here. Yes, there were some not-so-sweet bits, but that book feels shaped like one of its main characters and stuffed full with sweet youth, drizzled in a tender sauce to ease growing up.

4) Tortilla – A flat bread dating back to prehistoric times, tortillas are made of corn or flour. Name a book or series that has withstood the test of time.

There are so many wonderful books I could mention here. I adore many of Shakespeare’s works, and Poe’s as well. However, I think I’ll choose Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” for this. With multiple movies and television series, Baker Street is still as popular as ever!

5) Baguette – A french bread with very crusty outside and delicate, tender ‘meat’ this bread is used for multiple purposes. Name a book or character that seemed thick skinned or ‘crusty’ at first, but that you later found to be delicate and tender once you got to know them OR that brings out multiple emotions in you.

I’m currently reading “Hollow City”, the second book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, and I think I will choose the gypsy characters from this book. I won’t spoil anything here, but they definitely started out crusty and mellowed into tenderness. 

That’s all that I have for you right now! If I do a video I will attempt to come up with different answers and will post it on the blog as well.

I would love to see what Silver Threading, Ronovan, Words Warrior, and Charles make of this tag…as well as anyone else who would like to have a crack at it! Please make sure to let me know if you take this on, I can’t wait to see everyone’s answers!

Saturday Stories

As part of my goals for 2016, I sat down and came up with a schedule for my blog and BookTube posts. Now, I may post more than I have set up and I may, just may, not post as much (sigh…I know it will happen. I try so hard…but I digress), but at the moment my set up will look something like this:

Sunday – video (and possibly written blog ) Weekly Goals, TBR, and anything relevant on the schedule. 

Monday – Video “random” life topics. Movies, TV, Music, Writing, etc. Non-reading related items. 

Tuesday – Blog Spotlight on —Artists, Illustrators, etc…similar to Author Interview Fridays but may not include interviews. 

Wednesay – Blog and Video – The Return of What are You Reading Wednesdays…book reviews, TBR updates, etc. 

Blog – Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Thursday – off day

Friday – Blog Author Interview Fridays

Saturday – Blog Saturday’s Stories – Weekly Updates and Writing Excerpts. 

So that is my update for this week…I am also aiming to include weekly word counts and things worked on.

The Siren’s Tale (a short story) – 581 words

The Way We Were… (novel)- 846 words

Paulonious Punk (children’s book) – 92 words

Blog Posts – 311 words

Total Since 1/1/16 – 1830 words

Not a bad way to start out the year, if I do say so myself! Leave me a comment with your own new goals, word counts, etc. I can’t wait to hear from you!

For now, I’m going to end this week’s Saturday Stories with an excerpt from the first draft of The Way We Were… that I wrote this morning. This is from the villain’s perspective:

 

“See, here’s the thing,” Collin’s steel edged voice mirrored his father’s cultured tones to perfection, his hard gaze making even veterans of The Foundation flinch away. “Everyone is flawed and self-conscious. Everyone worries. The more you care, the more easily you get stressed. Everyone,” he pushed on the word again, physically leaning into it as though testing the strength of the thing, “Everyone has a weakness to exploit. We use that and we can get in anywhere, with anyone.”

A scrawny, scruffy young man in the middle of the seated group raised his hand tentatively. Knowing enough to accept the following glower in his direction as instruction to speak, but not quite smart enough yet to keep his mouth shut anyway, the twenty-something softly starter, “What you’re talking about is…” he swallowed visibly, his adam’s apple bobbing with the strain, “Well, isn’t that a type of,” he was almost hyperventilating by this point but pushed on admirably, “emotional abuse? That can break people, sir, irrevocably.”

“Psych major,” Collin growled the half question across the stage in Peter’s direction.

Pete merely tipped his beer while inclining his head and lazily reminded his friend, “You thought one or two of them might be helpful.”

“I’m a flippin’ genius,” Collin sighed sarcastically, obviously dismissive and agitated by the truth of the matter.

“No one here to argue that point,” Pete taunted half-heartedly. “You,” he pointed the bottle in his hand at the still-standing psychologist, “It can break people if done hard enough, long enough. But most of what we do is more like a mental splinter. We needle and we agitate with small gestures and comments. We talk about how so-and-so has found such a great job or mention that 5 star restaurant we just visited, and threw left overs out from, to someone who is obviously struggling. We talk about the resort we visited last week to a friend who puts all of their travels on hold to merely survive and care for their family. No bragging involved, just softly worded side notes really, but those kind work their way in to brains and later on, instead of sleeping, he or she will be crying into the darkness. This works especially well with anxiety suffered and parents. Yes, it is mental and emotional abuse. It breaks them down, it blocks them from seeing the way to their dreams, and it keeps them right where we want them.”

 

Until Next Time….

 

 

#BeWriter’s Quote Wednesday

Welcome, Welcome to the next to last #BeWriter’sQuoting Wednesday of 2015 (I’ll come up with a good combo name…just wait for it!).

Remember to check out Silver Threading and Ronovan for more information, rules, prompts, and general merriment.

This week I wanted to continue with the ‘gifts’ theme we’ve been exploring for the Holiday season…and away we go!

 

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Passionate about writing? Write..Passionate about miniature, ceramic goat herders? Open a museum/auction house. Passionate about the person you stare at through the window at night? Seek help…that wasn’t isn’t calling you! 

Hopefully we all have things light a fire inside of us. Writing and reading do that for me. I get started and lose myself entirely in the story, whether it’s mine or someone else’s. Someday I will be doing that for a living and acing it, right now I’m doing it for (mostly) free and loving it. Whatever you’re passionate about, I hope you pursue it throughout the new year.

 

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Trudge on, push through that block, work every day: A muse comes to you through hard work, not booze and pretty lights (ok…not normally through booze and pretty lights). 

Inspiration comes and goes but when you keep going without it, that is when you discover the true depths of your passion and gift. Keep on swimming!

Finally:

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This is technically something for a teacher, but every author, every artist, every person that is passionate about their work becomes a teacher through that passion. Thank you all!

Remain passionate, seek personal inspirations, and pour yourself into making sure that the joy and passion you find in your gift shine through in all you do. Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, and any other holiday that happens in this end of year time.

I hope that my love, joy, and passion for words shines through to you all. I adore sharing it with you and I thank you for sharing your passions with me. until next time…

Author vs. Writer

Today I want to talk to you about something that has been bothering me, eating at me really, for a few weeks now. Actually, that isn’t accurate. This issue has been bothering me for over a year and every time I think I’m finally over it, every time I think I’ve acclimated myself to it, I realize that I was wrong and it still bothers me. “What could this issue be?” I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves what I’m up in arms about. Well I’ll tell you: the use of the words author and writer to mean very different things. Such as ‘well I’m a writer, but not an author.” Or “how would you advise someone who is aspiring to become an author.” etc. 

Almost every day I see an interview or comment in which someone is referred to as ‘aspiring’ to be an author, or in which someone defines that moment wherein they became an author as the time they finally published something, etc.

Not to be rude or anything, but I completely disagree! To be an author does not mean that you have published and to be a writer does not mean that you have not. What it means is that you have accepted in yourself the fact that you are who you are, and the way you do that is through telling stories in whatever form of wordsmithery you’ve chosen.

I find it so frustrating to be talking with someone who says “oh you’re a writer/author, what would you say to an ASPIRING author?”

I say there is no such thing unless you haven’t started yet. When you write, you’re a writer. When you’re a writer, you’re an author. The first time you completed the first poem or short story that had anything of your own ideas in it, sometime back in about 1st grade or so, you became an author. In fact, according to the writing process taught to our students, you became a ‘published’ author by turning in a completed work to be read and reviewed by your intended audience (the teacher). So get that concern out of your head. You’ve been there a while.

Dictionary.com defines an author as a person who writes a novel, poem, essay, etc.; the composer of literary work, as distinguished from a compiler, translator, editor, or copyist. As well as, the literary production or productions of a writer: the maker of anything; creator; originator:

The same site defines a writer as a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, etc., especially as an occupation or profession; an author or journalist. AND a person who commits his or her thoughts, ideas, etc., to writing :

Not to be too sarcastic here but: OH LOOK, an author writes and a writer writes. No where here does it say “An author is a person who is published and you can only use this title when you have an agent, a traditional publisher, a set of editors, and a personal illustrator.” No, it says an author is a person who ‘writes.’ A writer is a person engaged in writing.

They are one and the same everyone! SO please, stop giving advice to ‘aspiring authors’ or “writers looking to become authors.” If you write, you are already both.

I understand that calling someone a ‘beginning writer or author’ is a little less elegant and Jr. author probably isn’t the thing either, but for the love of words, let’s find something that works to show that they are starting out without implying that they don’t actually write!

For the record, I have been an author for my entire life and a writer since i learned the alphabet…not that anyone can read my handwriting any better now than when I was 3. I had poetry officially published a few times throughout jr. High and High school, but didn’t ‘officially’ publish in 2012. That means I’m aspiring to learn more, not that I’m an aspiring author. See the difference?

Mental Grammar –

I have a bit of an issue. I’m sure that several of you are making faces at the screen A bit?? Try several, you’re probably thinking. But come on guys, I’m being specific here!

Ok, Since you asked so nicely…here it is. My mind automatically types your speech into grammatically corrected sentences and paragraphs. Stop laughing, I’m being serious! 😉

You see, when people start speaking to me (usually only in person) my brain starts picking at the invisible keyboard, flashing words up behind my eyes as you speak. Text to type in an instant. The issue here is that I edit…a lot. As an author, bibliophile, and grammar geek, I automatically move words and phrases to where they should be. Which means that the compliment you give me containing a dangling participle and qualifiers…well it takes me a few seconds to remember that people don’t speak correctly, and I shouldn’t be offended by what you just said. I should really smile and be happy that you complimented me.

Most of the time I can ignore the flowing type, pay attention to your conversation, and smile at the correct intervals. I can laugh, snarl, and carry on with ease…but days like today when I have had little to no good sleep and a hyper toddler…it may take longer.

So please, don’t be offended at that face i just made. I was only trying to work through the odd conglomerate of words that you threw at me.

People don’t speak grammatically.

(Remember – if you want to find more of me, My works are available in paperback and e-reader versions @ amazon.com/author/elizabethtyree 

Don’t forget to run over to Goodreads and follow me there! While you’re at it, ask me a few questions…I love getting that e-mail!)