Apologies, I am Alive

I do apologize for completely disappearing for almost a year. This has been quite the seven months since my last post. Not to be dramatic, but I found love, lost love, was betrayed by a supposed best friend, and fell desperately ill.

I write romances, I’m not supposed to actually live them.

I am slowly on the mend from my emotional adventures, picking up the pieces. I’ve had to reprioritize, putting my health first, then school, and then my writing. It has been a long, difficult path to traverse, and without any light to guide me. But rest assured, once I graduate in May, and get settled where ever I find a job, I hope to pick up where I left off.

That will mean more book reviews, more interesting tidbits, and more reflections on self-publishing.

Thanks for sticking around, those of you who did. I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL.

Checking In

Hello everyone!

Yes, I am alive. I apologize for my absence. Graduate school takes up far more time than I realized, and now I am working full-time in an internship that requires too much of my creativity… I come home exhausted yet satisfied.

Loyalty Contest

I realize I’ve probably lost a lot of my readership, so if you’re still around, thank you for sticking with me. Make sure to comment and tell everyone what you’ve been up to lately. One of the commenters will receive a free copy of my “best of” book, Worderella On Writing. The 52 pg book contains my most popular posts for your scribbling pleasure. As a full disclosure, I make one dollar per purchase.

The winner will be notified/announced next week.

Writing

In terms of writing, I was a little burned out from my fiction class this last semester. However, the class improved my writing tremendously, and I wouldn’t give up that experience for the world. Word Nerd was kind enough to provide comments for Trentwood’s Orphan, the entire draft, and boy do I have some work to do. On the one hand, it seems she liked it, on the other hand, I was obviously way too close to the story because what I thought was clear about the characters was actually very muddy.

I have a lot of work to do. But now that I’ve taken a six-month break from the work, and a month-long break from writing in general, I think I’m ready for it. Wish me luck!

Guest Posts

Do you have a topic you’d like to talk about? Are you new to self-publishing, a veteran, or somewhere in-between? Do you have editing and/or writing tips that others could learn? Submit your idea and we’ll work out deadline. Make sure to provide a summary of your idea.

Second Draft Complete

Trentwood's Orphan cover mock-up by Belinda Kroll

As of Sunday at four in the afternoon, I finished writing the second draft of First Draft B. These are the specs…

The goal was to write 85,000 words, thus cutting out what I suspected was 10k words of fluff from First Draft B. It came out to 85 182, and that wasn’t planned. Very pleased.

I wanted to complete this draft by December 19, 2008. I finished five days ahead of schedule, even though I’m in graduate school.

I wanted a tighter, cleaner draft. I’m feeling pretty good about this.

I need to put this draft away for a couple of months and work on a new project. Thank goodness I’m taking an advanced fiction writing course next semester.

I’m looking for beta readers who are willing to comment on the entire work. I use Microsoft Word 2007, so I can read the commenting feature from 2003/2007. Let me know if you’re interested, and we’ll work out the details. If you don’t read historical fiction or historical romance, please don’t contact me. You won’t know the genre cliches to help me make sure I don’t commit them.

How are your projects going?

Urgent Update: Free Writer’s Word Processor Giveaway

For you writers looking for a word processor that caters to you as a writer (i.e. something that isn’t Microsoft Word), you NEED to get over to Giveaway of the Day. For today only they are releasing the Liquid Story Binder, a program made specifically for writers.

Believe me, this thing is amazing. I thought I’d never leave MS Word… it’s my baby. I know more keyboard commands than a person should, I use MS Word that much. But Liquid Story Binder has embedded outline, timeline, and association modules so all of your novel information stays in one program. You can link to mp3’s for a customized playlist as you write. You can embed images so you always know what your setting looks like (for example), and create dossiers for characters. You can have each chapter in a separate file, and Liquid Story Binder is smart enough to link them together for when you print the entire thing out.

Plus, the program is small enough to install on your portable USB drive… so you can literally take all your notes for your novel with you. Outstanding.

There seems to be a slight learning curve, but the chapter outlining and character/chapter timeline modules have me sold. Get your copy now! You only have 18 hrs left by the time I post this entry (9am American Eastern time)!

In other news, I’ve grown tired of my blog and website theme, so I’ve changed it. I didn’t create the blog theme, but I think it’s perfect (for now, haha). I’m still tweaking the website.

Self-Publishers in the wilds of Amazon

I was going to post a Thursday Thirteen on graduating with my bachelors of science in computer science and engineering. Note the past tense. Instead, I’m going to weigh in on this ongoing hooplah about Amazon.com making a business decision that no small or self-publisher wants to hear: that print-on-demand books sold through Amazon must use Amazon’s subsidiary, BookSurge, rather than relying on the industry standard, Lightening Source.

A panic quickly ensued, and my RSS reader was flooded with blog entries about how Amazon is becoming a book monopoly. PublishAmerica was the first victim of Amazon.com’s new policy by having all of their “buy this book now” buttons removed. As such, PublishAmerica books are now only available through resellers on Amazon.com. Same with Whiskey Creek Press, which is a traditional publisher who uses print-on-demand technology to produce their books.

I am, of course, concerned. As an author who has vanity published, and plans to self-publish, Amazon.com’s contract with BookSurge doesn’t sound too attractive. To register with BookSurge, you have to pay $50 per new title in set-up fees, and Amazon.com takes 48% out of the sale price to pay for the printing of the book. If you choose to use the Advantage Program (using a POD other thank BookSurge), then you pay $29.95 a year to keep the book in print/stay a part of the Advantage Program, pay all shipping and handling to get the books to Amazon.com warehouses, plus Amazon.com still takes the usual 55% from the sale price.

It’s no wonder there’s little more than a dollar or two per book for us poor authors once the royalty check comes in the mail!

For the record, it seems that the big three print-on-demand companies have already signed the contract, so books printed through Lulu, AuthorHouse/iUniverse, and possibly Xlibris, remain available on Amazon.com. The general consensus is that Amazon.com is being really unfair to the little guys, and there is a petition to stop Amazon.com, along with an active suit against Amazon.com for becoming monopolistic. For updated information if this continuing drama, see here: http://www.writersweekly.com/amazon.php.

I do realize that this is a business decision, and a smart one on Amazon.com’s part. In fact, I’m surprised they, or Barnes and Noble.com, didn’t do this before. But it still stinks for the little guys like me, who are going into self-publishing. And now that there’s a class-action suit against Amazon.com, who knows where this will lead? This may go nowhere, and all this worry will be for naught… or, Amazon.com could win the suit, and I’ll just have to sell my book from my website and independent booksellers only… because I doubt I can afford such a cut of the sales if I want to make any sort of profit, even if only to break even. (FYI, if I break even, I consider myself a success.)

I’ll try to keep you all updated on what’s going on as I hear more, and I’m sorry for not breaking this sooner. I’ve been watching myself, hoping the entire issue would die down to reveal a mistake on the part of Amazon.com’s PR staff, or something.

In the meantime, I’ll need to take a short two week haitus as I take time to graduate, visit the extended family, start my summer internship, find a place to live for grad school, and hopefully find time to edit. See you the week of June 23!

To read more about this issue…

Want to be Showcased on Worderella Writes?

Do you have information about how to write, edit, or publish?

Do you have favorite blogs that you read that I haven’t showcased?

Is there a genre you write that I haven’t discussed?

I’m looking for guest bloggers to spice up Worderella Writes. At the end of your post, feel free to advertise your own website/blog, especially if it has to do with the craft of writing, or the progress of your own work.

Contact me at my website or comment to this post with your ideas and I’ll respond to let you know the details.

Things to keep in mind: I try to keep my posts around 600 words. There needs to be a general writing, reading, research, history, or romance theme. I don’t post anything vulgar so don’t bother if that’s what you’re planning to do.

Beta Males Revisted

Just a quick entry to let you know about an interesting discussion that’s happening at Redlines and Deadlines about beta males in fiction/romance.

In case you don’t remember, I wrote a similar entry two years ago, Mr Beta Male, and Romancing the Blog has written about the beta hero as well as his counterpart, the beta heroine. For you writers who are interested in using the underdog in the romance world as the love interest in your WIP, I suggest taking a look at all these articles to make up your mind.

To Everything There is a Season

Belinda's notecardWell, the season hasn’t changed yet, unfortunately. The weather forecast says winter storm for the rest of the night. However, today the season did change for my website. I’ve been agonizing over the new layout (the old one was just awful) for the past three weeks, and I think I’ve come up with one that is both functional and visually appealing. I’ve never used brown and pink together in a layout before.

Let me know what you think! You can view the site here: http://www.worderella.com

The plan is, eventually, to convert the blog over to a similar layout. I also plan to put the random writing quote functionality back into the website because I love quotes and I love writing, and quotes about writing just make my day. And I want to replace the old research/writing tips files with an updated and more organized structure that will also point to similar blog posts that I have made.

So there are a couple of things left on my list to do to make this layout complete, but overall, I’m pretty pleased.

2007 Reading Stats

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, right? Well, I think it’s time I admit that I have a problem: I don’t have enough time to read everything I want to read. I admitted this to myself two years ago in June, and I’m happy to say I have made progress. I think keeping a list of books I want to read and checking off the ones I have read really helps. It’s like a multi-step program toward recovery, only… the list never ends. Hey, I’m improving my literacy rate! But in doing so, I’ve created a new problem by re-awakening the avid reader of my childhood and forgetting that sleep is just as important as getting to the next chapter in my new favorite book. Don’t believe me? Take a look at my reading statistics from 2007…

Number of books: 41. I’m pleased with this number, considering I’m a full-time computer science engineering student, I work part-time, I’m very active with my family, and I’m the editor-in-chief/cartoonist for my college’s magazine. I think the trick is reading before I go to bed. It’s amazing how reading an hour every couple of days cleanses my mind like a gentle sponge bath.

Number of Pages: 14,039. Some books were surprisingly short, others, almost too long. The average length was around 350-400 pages.

Genres: Historical fiction, romance, science-fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, women’s fiction, classics, and young adult. Sometimes I think I should branch out and read something new, but it seems to me the only thing I don’t really read is anything erotic, if I can help it. Any suggestions?

Best loved book: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, by far (review coming later). Why my favorite? This book was like learning to love reading all over again for me. It felt like I was reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and I fell irretrievably in love with the characters and the author’s style. I was left with that satisfied calm one gets after reading a classic that is touching, well-written, and still applicable to the modern world. If you have any sentimental or positive feeling for Pride and Prejudice, you will like Gaskell’s North and South, set in England’s 19th Century industrial revolution.

Runners-up were The Thirteenth Tale, Wildford’s Daughter (review coming later), Hurricane Moon, The Extra Large Medium, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, and Stardust.

Least loved book: I rarely dislike books that I read, but I have to admit I sincerely disliked How to Read a Novel. The linked review gives some of my reasons; I felt like the author was complaining a little too much and complaining is a pet-peeve of mine.

Book list in reading order: here.

So as you can see, when reading a good book, I have absolutely no self-control. I’m an addict of the worst kind, lost to the world. So I have to admit, when I think I’ve gotten control over my reading habits and then look at my To Be Read journal, I have to sigh. My list for 2008 already has 48 books… some leftovers from last year that I never got around to reading, and others that I want to read after seeing it in my library’s most recent issue of BookPage.

What’s a girl to do? For shame, it seems I’m sentenced to read until I die. 🙂 How many of you use a book list? If you don’t use a list, how do you decide what to read next? Amazon.com reader reviews and suggested books? Reader blogs? Newsletters like BookPage? This is something I’ve always been really curious about.