book review

Write. Publish. Repeat.

Looks hardback, but there isn't that option. At least not when I purchased.

Looks hardback, but there isn’t that option. At least not when I purchased.

Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success By: Sean Platt Johnny B. Truant with David Wright

Synopsis:

Write. Publish. Repeat. The No-Luck-Required Guide to Publishing

In 2013, Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words and made their full-time livings as indie authors. In Write. Publish. Repeat., they tell you exactly how they did it: how they created over 15 independent franchises across 50+ published works, how they turned their art into a logical, sustainable business, and how any independent author can do the same to build a sustainable, profitable career with their writing.

Write. Publish. Repeat. explains the current self-publishing landscape and covers the truths and myths about what it means to be an indie author now and in the foreseeable future. It explains how to create books your readers will love and will want to return to again and again. Write. Publish. Repeat. details expert methods for building story worlds, characters, and plots, understanding your market (right down to your ideal reader), using the best tools possible to capture your draft, and explains proven best practices for editing. The book also discusses covers, titles, formatting, pricing, and publishing to multiple platforms, plus a bit on getting your books into print (and why that might not be a good idea!). But most importantly, Write. Publish. Repeat. details the psychology-driven marketing plan that Sean and Johnny built to shape their stories into “products” that readers couldn’t help but be drawn into — thus almost automatically generating sales — and explores ways that smart, business-minded writers can do the same to future-proof their careers.

This book is not a formula with an easy path to follow. It is a guidebook that will help you build a successful indie publishing career, no matter what type of writer you are … so long as you’re the type who’s willing to do the work.

Review:

I prefer to have my non-fiction in paperback or hardback form so I purchased the physical copy of this book. I believe it’s the first Createspace book I’ve ever seen, so that was nice. It looked like any other book, though there were the occasional formatting issue, but not enough to be a big deal.

If you like the Self-Publishing Podcast than you’ll probably like this even better. I enjoy the little rabbit holes they go down on the show, but the book cuts straight through that and gets right to what I really want to know. Tons of chapters and subchapters and they go into a fair amount of detail. They do talk about Stephen King and Scrivener a lot, but if you’ve listened to the show you should already be familiar with their fetishes.

Since I’ve listened to most of their podcast there was a lot that I was already familiar with, but since they weren’t confined to just an hour long show they got to delve in deeper. I ended up learning more than I expected. There are several areas I need to work on, particularly my mailing list.

A couple negatives or things that were a little annoying.

I found their love of Scrivener eye roll worthy, they dedicated a few pages just to that plus multiple mentions throughout, I honestly thought they should have been included in the dedication. I like Scrivener, a lot, but I use Microsoft Word and have not had the issues they have had with it.

They also tend to assume you can pump out as many words as they can. They made a point not to mention how many words that they get out at a time, but a lot of their ideas and suggestions are to write even more. When writing isn’t your full time job, and you can’t write as quickly as they can, it’s difficult to do what they suggest. I think what they recommend are really good ideas, I’ll just have to figure out how to scale them down.

4/5

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Write Your Own Fantasy Story By: Tish Farrell

Write Your Own Fantasy Story

Write Your Own Fantasy Story By: Tish Farrell

Synopsis:

Provides tips on how to write fantasy stories, including how to get started, how to create characters, and how to develop plots. Includes suggestions from famous authors.

Review:

I didn’t realize this was a YA book when I checked it out, evidently I’m blind because there was a huge YA sticker on the spine. Oh well.

I would definitely recommend this to a young, beginning writer. It was filled with great advice and good writing prompts. I wish I’d read something like this when I was young because I know I would have enjoyed following the writing tips it listed.

Since I have a little more experience I didn’t get much from this book. There were a lot of references to fantasy writers and advice and little snippets that they’ve said other places, nothing original, though.

Still I might find myself doing one of their writing prompts just for fun.

Here’s a line from the book I liked:

“Read other writers’ work to help you improve. Be grateful for their guidance, but don’t envy them.”

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy

how to write science fiction and fantasy

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy By: Orson Scott Card

From one of the all-time bestselling authors of science fiction and fantasy writing comes an excellent resource for beginners or pros. How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card covers topics such as the creation of worlds and alien societies and the use and rules of magic, topics specific to the genre. Learn creative science fiction and fantasy writing from one of the masters.

Review:

Whatever you think of Orson Scott Card’s beliefs he is known for his science fiction so I thought it would be interesting to read his book.

I learned some things that I should have done with my Amelia Bennett Chronicles books, though I don’t think they’ve suffered and I can certainly use what I learned in future episodes.

I decided that I never wanted to write hard sci-fi.

I was just starting to think, “Man he’s got a lot of rules for this stuff.”

When he blindsided me with some not nice things to say about Star Trek. I can see why hard sci-fi writer’s wouldn’t like Star Trek but if he felt that way he should have just not brought it up. Instead he brought it up a few times, each time to point out exactly where they fucked up. And each time it made me want to do exactly the opposite of what he recommended.

That’s just how I roll.

Anyway. He strongly recommends not writing prologues in event driven books. He basically says you’re an amateur that doesn’t know what you’re doing if you do.

He has a lot of rules, strong recommendations, and opinions on what a sci-fi and fantasy writer should do. Most of what he mentions is for sci-fi with some fantasy stuff thrown in almost as an after though.

“You can do this with fantasy too.”

Honestly I was never able to get over him dissing Star Trek so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I thought the publishing information was pretty dated, since it was first written in 1991 there wasn’t any mention of self-publishing.

Overall I learned very little from this book and wouldn’t recommend it.

2/5

The Elements of Style By William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

elements of style

Wow this book is incredible. I highly recommend it to anyone that is a writer, or if you just happen to love grammar. There is so much information in here, information that I knew at one time but have forgotten. I haven’t retained it all, obviously, it’s the kind of book you have to re-read.

Originally written in 1869 by William Strunk as an English textbook, it was updated by E.B. White in 1959 to bring in more modern references. It was updated again later since the 50s are no longer modern. It’s filled with basic and not so basic English rules of grammar and tips on how to be a better writer.

If I could somehow retain and use just half of what is in this book I would be ecstatic. It’s available on kindle fairly cheap, but this is the kind of book I prefer to have in physical form. Since this is a library copy I will be buying this to add to my collection.

I’m going to leave you with some helpful advice I received but am having issues actually putting into use:

“Omit needless words!”

When the Walls Fell & Fragments By Monique Martin

So I just finished book three in the Out of Time series, I didn’t stop after book two to write a review because I had to read the third and find out what happened next with Elizabeth and Simon.

In When the Walls Fell they go back in time to 1906 San Francisco, CA days before the great earthquake to save Simon from possibly never existing. I’ve never been to California, and to be honest the most I know about their history is what I’ve watched in Briscoe County Jr., but I thought Monique did a good job of describing the environment and fashion. The romance between Simon and Elizabeth was just as intense and beautiful as before and the mystery kept me guessing. I liked that she has the characters make plans and then not go into detail about them so you feel the suspense build not knowing what is going to happen. Really the only problem I had with the book was that every man seemed to want Elizabeth. It wasn’t on the scale of Twilight ridiculousness but it did start to get annoying. I gave it 4 stars on goodreads.

I gave a little groan when I saw that Fragments was set during WWII and dealt with Nazis. It’s a book about time travel and the hero is a professor of the occult it was an obvious time to visit. My husband and the rest of the world find the Nazis very interesting and I can see the draw but ever since I read Masters of Deceit by J. Edgar Hoover in high school I have always felt that the Communists were the superior evil. That’s just my personal opinion, one I’ve yet to meet anyone that shares.

Anyway, Simon and Elizabeth go back in time to rescue a missing time traveler that they happen to know the wife of from the previous book. Elizabeth thinks this will be easy and they’ll be in and out, not sure if she’s never read anything about England during that time but obviously things do not go as planned. There are spies from everywhere and of course the previously mentioned Nazis and a missing artifact that will be essential in Hitler’s winning the war. All of that and I still liked the book. The mystery did not capture my interest this time around, just because I’ve seen/read this story a few times; however the continuing romance kept me reading and keeps me wanting more. Elizabeth isn’t a huge magnet for horny men and instead gets to have a taste of the green-eyed monster this time and Simon isn’t as pig-headed and stubborn and has almost accepted that she is going to do whatever she wants. Overall I’m giving it 4 stars on goodreads but I feel that it is more of a 3.5 star book. Which is still a good ranking in my eyes, I tend to hand out a lot of 3 stars.

Out of Time: A Time Travel Mystery By Monique Martin

So I love time travel. A lot. I’ve gotten into long heated discussions about it; I’ve asked the question would I go back and kill Hitler; I use the concept of time travel in my everyday conversation,

“Man if I could I would so go back and see Elvis live before he got fat.”

If a TV show, movie, or book has time travel in it I will look at and probably read/watch it. So I almost immediately noticed this book in Monique’s signature on the kindleboards. I downloaded the sample a long, long time ago but wasn’t able to get to it until now. As soon as I started reading it I did not want to put it down. At 2:00 am I finally had to force myself because my husband would not understand if I slept away the sunlight on one of our last days in Tokyo. I read it obsessively on the subway in between destinations and had to fight to keep myself from reading it while I was supposed to be enjoying my surroundings.

“Yeah, yeah Japan whoohoo. Whatever let me sit here by myself surrounded by beauty and a foreign culture and bury my head in my kindle.”

I resisted. Barely. As soon as I got back to the hotel though I went right back to it and finished, and I’m so thankful the hotel has wi-fi so I can download the next one.

Out of Time is about a British professor named Simon and his grad student assistance Elizabeth; both are secretly in love with the other but haven’t let on because of various reasons. While she is dropping off graded papers one thing leads to another and they find themselves in 1929. While not my favorite period in time it is definitely an interesting one. Speakeasies, gangsters, oh yes and a vampire. I’m kind of getting burnt out on vampires and werewolves, but he didn’t sparkle so at least it was the right kind.

Elizabeth and Simon were almost too perfect but I still really enjoyed them. Elizabeth was spunky and smart and didn’t wait around on Simon to save the day. Simon had just enough moments as a caveman protecting his woman to balance out his professorness. King as a villain was great. He oozed scary. The ending kept be guessing, not sure if everything would end up happy or the next book would be about overcoming deep loss.

Overall I really enjoyed it. I gave it a 5 star rating on goodreads but leaning more toward a 4.25. Either way I’ve got When the Walls Fell waiting on my kindle and can’t wait to get started.

Old Man’s War By John Scalzi

I picked this up from the library after reading and loving Redshirts. The premise wasn’t something I would normally read but because I loved Redshirts so much I decided to give it a try, and I am so glad that I did.

In the Old Man’s War when people reach the age of 75 they have the option of enlisting in the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) and fighting for humanity in the never-ending battle for land in space. Most, if not all, join because they will be made young again; though they don’t know how this is done. They serve for 10 years and then have the option to retire on one of the colonized planets; they can never return to Earth or even communicate with their families.

The book follows John Perry through his first year of enlistment and slightly beyond. He’s not what you normally think a soldier should be, then again since everyone is 75 none of them are. He and his wife protested against a war and he worked in advertising during his life on Earth. What I liked most about John was that, while he was a good soldier and was better than average, he wasn’t superhuman. What he accomplished and how he did it was believable. He wasn’t single handedly saving the day and constantly thinking of things others didn’t. He followed orders as much as he gave them.

The character development is wonderful; John Perry is just the right amount of not perfect so when he does something remarkable you aren’t rolling your eyes. The plot does a good job of skipping what could be boring parts and going straight for the action without leaving you asking what the hell is happening. I will admit there were a few small parts that I skimmed over when it started going into the science of everything. I love sci-fi but science has never been a strength of mine.

Overall I would rank this 4.75 stars out of 5. I have The Android’s Dream checked out as well and can’t wait to read it. I will definitely be reading all I can get my hands on of John Scalzi.