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About the Slush Pile and the Indie Author

Finish Line

Finish Line (Photo credit: jayneandd)

The amount of review requests that come in on a weekly basis is actually staggering. I had never realized the amount of indie/small press authors out there trying to get some recognition. But one thing I noticed is that a lot of requests simply read “Here’s my book. Please review.”

That’s it. No pride. No drive. No initiative. Just a poorly worded email that probably took more time for me to read it than for them to write it and send it. I’ll be honest. It could be the greatest story ever told and it wouldn’t make it out of my slush pile. If the author isn’t excited about the book, then why should I be?

Then there are books that at first glance, I have no interest in. Maybe the synopsis just isn’t grabbing my attention. Maybe I’m burned out on that particular genre at the time. It could be one of a million reasons. But whatever the reason, I’m just not interested.

But what happens when these books come from a passionate author willing to bleed to sell you on the idea of their book? Well you might just get me interested. Take Automaton for example.

Automaton is the debut novel of Cheryl (C.L.) Davies. At my first glance of the review request for this book, I was initially going to put it in the “I’ll Get to it When I Get to it” pile. The initial idea didn’t really intrigue me because this idea had been done before in a variety of ways.

One of my favorite movies is The Truman Show and the premise was somewhat similar. Notice I say, somewhat. I admit that I didn’t really do my due diligence when first presented with this book.

Cheryl Davies was different from those authors. She is one of authors who fights tooth and nail for every review. Instead of the usual boring, generic request for a review, Cheryl gave a wonderful pitch in which she said it was something akin to “the Sims on crack” (I don’t remember the exact words and am too lazy to go recheck it).

That sold me on the book immediately because let’s face it: Who doesn’t like the Sims?! Oh, you don’t like the Sims? Well you must be a completely soulless demon of some kind. Seriously.

Beside the fact that it convinced me to read the book, my conversations with Cheryl illustrated one of my issues with some indie authors. I noticed that a good portion of them think that their job is done once the book is written. It is almost as if they believe the book will sell itself.

They see the whole process as a 40 yard dash and once they cross that finish line, they can sit back and enjoy the roar of the crowd. What they fail to realize is that independent publishing isn’t a 40 yard dash. It is a marathon that starts with the concept of your book and you cross the finish line only after you have decided that you have sold enough books.
And if one is passionate about writing, you can never sell enough books.

While some of these authors are sitting back wondering why their book is not selling, the passionate ones are marketing their books, listening to feedback, and most importantly writing the next one.

I guess the whole point of this rant is to say that if you aren’t passionate about writing, if you aren’t willing to pour your heart and soul into your novels, if you aren’t willing to bleed to make your book successful, maybe just maybe you are in the wrong business.

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Games Workshop Super Bully

MCA Hogarth’s Spots the Space Marine

So I’m a little late on getting on this story but it is still a story that needs to be told (at least in my opinion).   On December 13, 2012 author M.C.A Hogarth received an email from Amazon explaining to her that Games Workshop accused her of infringement due to her use of the phrase ‘space marine’ in the title of her book.  Amazon explained that due to the GW complaint, they stopped selling Spot the Space Marine.

Being a GW customer in the past, I did a double take.  Were they seriously trying this?  And if they were seriously being jerks about this, why not go after the StarCraft franchise for use of ‘space marine’?  When I was complaining about the situation to my husband, his words were “When I hear space marine, I think of Starship Troopers.”  So obviously Hogarth isn’t the first person to use the term ‘space marine’.

In fact according to Wikipedia, the earliest us of the term ‘space marine’ was by Bob Olsen in his short story “Captain Brink of the Space Marines”.  The Wikipedia article on ‘space marine’ even highlights the recent trademark controversy.

I guess my main concern is that Games Workshop went after the little guy here.  They didn’t go after the heavy hitters.  Instead they decided to imitate the NFL and throw their weight and lawyers around at someone who could never afford to compete legally against these bullying tactics.

I encourage everyone to visit MCA Hogarth’s website/blog to show your support for the independent author.

Also don’t forget to check out our contest, follow us on twitter, and GooglePlus!

Ellipsis Tirade

el·lip·sisnoun \i-ˈlip-səs, e-\

  1. a : the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete;  b : a sudden leap from one topic to another
  2. : marks or a mark (as …) indicating an omission (as of words) or a pause

The above definition is taken from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Since I’ve began to read indie author works, I’ve noticed that writers seem to be in love with these three little dots.  So much so that they misuse them all the time.  At first, I thought it was just one book or author but after ten plus books where 75% of them misuse the ellipsis, I feel the need to step in. 

The main use of an ellipsis is to shorten a quotation or to show a trailing off in speech.  Here is an example of each.  For the quotation, let’s take a simple quote from Cicero:

Original – “A friend is, as it were, a second self.”

Ellipsisfied – “A friend is . . . a second self.”

Notice that is replaces an unnecessary portion of the quote.  The addition of the ellipsis does not change the meaning of the quote.  Now let’s use it to show a trailing off in speech or thought in dialogue.

“Fiddlesticks!  Where did I leave those darn . . . ?”

But what about using an ellipsis to build tension?  Even though it seems to be a widely used (and accepted) practice to use the ellipsis this way, I cannot find any book/site on writing styles that states that it should be used this way.  But I’m not going to fight against the stream here.  Language and grammar are ever changing creatures.

I tend to agree with the Writing Forward Blog which states:

“We can also use an ellipsis to indicate a pause or unfinished thought. At the end of a sentence, an ellipsis represents trailing off into silence.Using an ellipsis to represent a pause can get a writer into trouble.

We tend to pause a lot in speech. Pauses give us a moment to collect our thoughts or add emphasis to what we’re saying. But in writing, a page peppered with ellipses wreaks havoc on the eyes.The same applies to unfinished thoughts.

A lazy writer might use ellipses to indicate, “and so on,” or “et cetera.” In text messaging and social media, many people use ellipses where they believe the reader will implicitly understand what would be stated next. In professional-grade writing, we finish our thoughts, so ellipses used for this purpose should be rare.

However, when we are writing dialogue, an ellipsis can come in handy, especially if we want to show a character’s speech trailing off. Keep in mind, though, that ellipses, like exclamation points, should be used with caution and only when truly needed for emphasis. As a general rule, don’t use it unless you must.”

PLEASE, AUTHORS!  I BEG OF YOU!  When writing your novels, use ellipses sparingly! Also remember that ending a chapter in an ellipsis is redundant.  The tension builder is already there.  A well written story already has me thinking “Oh!  I so need to read the next chapter to find out what happens to [insert character here]!”.

Here are three great resources for using ellipses:

  1. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  2. Capital Community College’s Grammar Page (with handy drop down menu)
  3. Writing Forward’s Ellipsis Page

/endrant

If you like what you read here, be sure to follow us on twitter @ErinEymard and Google Plus.  Also check out how you can win a copy of Stephen King On Writing!

Reflections on First Review

English: Reflections on Mablethorpe Beach Peac...

English: Reflections on Mablethorpe Beach Peaceful scene just prior to the snow shower hitting at full belt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that I’ve completed my first book review and author interview, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I now know for sure that I can do this.  At first, I was afraid this was going to be a failed venture.  I thought that my other obligations (work and my three month old son) would prevent me from being successful.Happily, I can say that this is not the case.  In little under a month I’ve accomplished so much:

  1. First book review 
  2. First author interview
  3. Amassed a small following on twitter (*wink**wink**nudge**nudge*)
  4. Become a contributor to The Podler Review
  5. Met many other bloggers who share my passion for books
  6. Met many self/indie published authors

I believe that this is just the beginning to a very long blogging/reviewing journey.  I am already more than halfway through the novel for my second review and have a third and fourth review lined up.  Plus I have a review to do for Podler.  It has been exciting and I think it will only get more so.

So let me end with saying “Thank you for following this bookworm!” and be on the look out for my review of J.D. Hallowell’s Dragon Fate!

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