Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Removing "Said" From Your Vocabulary as an Author

A few days ago, I was talking to another author who is in the process of writing her first book.  She mentioned that she was having a problem with dialogue - in essence, she couldn't get away from using the word "said":

He said...
She said...
Barb said...

And so on, ad nauseum. All conversation seemed to require the use of "said."

I understood her dilemma, but - as I informed her - in truth there are dozens of words that can be used in place of said:


And if you need to see examples:

"You dyed your hair," Bob observed.
"Your dog is sick," the vet noted.
"I will hate her for as long as I live," David solemnly declared.

In fact, it's not even required that you use an indicator of speech:

Bob arched an eyebrow skeptically. "Oh, really?"
Angie stared at Muffin, then turned to James with a look of incredulity. "What the hell did you do to my dog??!!"

Basically, you don't have to use a word that specifically indicates that speech is occurring - the quotation marks will do that. (That's essentially the point of having them - to denote dialogue or speech of some sort.) You just simply have to make it clear who the speaker is. As long as you've got that base covered, you're home free with respect to this issue.

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Useful Twitter Hashtags for Writers

If you're an indie author, odds are that you already have a Twitter account. As most of you no doubt know, Twitter is a powerful form of social media. And if you're anything like me, you've probably used it heavily for promoting and marketing your books at one point or another.

However, aside from being a part of your marketing plan, Twitter is also a tremendous resource in terms of obtaining information.  Using hashtags (which are words or phrases preceded by the pound sign, "#"), you can locate tweets about almost any subject under the sun.  For authors, however, there are several hashtags that may be particularly valuable.

The first hashtag I'll mention, #MSWL, came to me via my editor, the fantastic Faith Williams of The Atwater Group (and in the form of a tweet, ironically enough).  It stands for "ManuScript Wish List," and to be frank - until I saw it in Faith's tweet - I had never heard of it. In essence, this hashtag is used by agents and publishers to identify the type of material they are currently interested in: fantasy, mysteries, romances about love between mutated fish and amnesiac zebras, what have you.  Great for those interested in being traditionally published, but even if you aren't it's a way to find out what the industry is looking for at any particular juncture.

Next, there's #askagent.  This one is practically self-explanatory: you ask questions that you may have about agency representation and related subjects, and someone (or multiple someones) will [hopefully] answer. There are also similar hashtags, like #askpub and #askauthor, that serve an almost identical purpose.

Finally, there's #99c. This is a hashtag that you can use as an author to announce that your book is on sale (for 99 cents, of course).  However, it's also a useful search mechanism for readers who are on the prowl for affordable books. In short, you can use this hashtag to fine-tune the parameters of any special pricing promotions.

Needless to say, there are dozens - if not hundreds or thousands - of other hashtags that are useful to writers.  Naturally, you shouldn't go overboard when incorporating them into your messages, but judicious use of these tools can clearly help you in your journey as author.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

New Book Release: Warden (Book 3: Attack of the Aswang)

I'm proud to announce that Warden (Book 3: Attack of the Aswang) has been released. (In truth, it was released a few days ago, but I'm only just getting around to noting it here.)

As is evident from the title, this is the third book in the Warden series. This time, I tried to show a little foresight and actually had a cover reveal a few weeks ago. (In essence, I'm starting to do things like a real author!)

In line with the previous entries in the series, I tried to focus on a non-traditional supernatural creature. Thankfully, there are myths and legends about all kinds of creatures out there - a wealth of information, in fact - and I had a great deal of fun writing about the aswang.

As usual, Amazon's estimate of the book's page length is a little off. Amazon estimates the page length at 150 pages. However, it's actually more than 200 pages. That's really about 50 pages more than what I had intended, but - as I always say - the story tells itself.  

Anyway, with this one out of the way, it's back to work typing the next novel.  For me, that's simply the best form of advertising and keeping readers interested. You have to get the next book out. And the next, and the next....

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