Category: Weekly Column

A very important element to successfully marketing books, online anyway, is to stay relevant. How? Social media. Ugh. I know but the ugly truth is, if you’re not on a reader’s radar, they’re not going to care about you or your book.

Bullying should be left where it belongs; with the childish things of the past. It should not be something adults engage in. It definitely shouldn’t be something so-called professionals would even consider being a part of.

Horror, both films and books, has a bad reputation in terms of its track record for gender equality. Much of it puts the woman in the role of victim, or glorifies the torture of a pretty young thing as a source of pleasure for the viewer/reader. With such a misogynistic taint on its image, why would any woman want to be a horror author anyway?

…although it’s not a real condition, for many writers, it feels very real. It is smothering, panic-inducing, and, sometimes, paralyzing. However, I still maintain that writer’s block is a fantasy, and it is not something that should keep you from writing.

We’re spinning a tale, crafting a make-believe world where nothing that happens is real. Inside that fiction, though, within that lie we’re telling, we should offer the reader the opportunity to examine the truth, no matter how unpleasant it might be.

The most important part of my editing process, in my opinion, is the line edit. I know this is confusing for some writers. I mean, isn’t all editing a line edit? We read every line, after all. Not exactly. For me, line edits are a massive undertaking and possibly the most intimidating step in my self-editing process. Sometimes I know I’ve made a colossal mess in my first draft, so I cry a little when I know it’s time to edit, because I really don’t want to “see” the mess I’ve made.

Editors are a writer’s best friend, as I’ve said many times. I love editors, even when I hate them for pointing out how awful I am at this writing thing. The work they do isn’t just about correcting spelling errors and chasing down rogue commas. An editor can look for a multitude of unrelated errors in a single pass, and best of all, a good editor will find those errors and give you hell for them. But it’s impossible to do a good job if you’ve handed that editor a steaming pile of first draft shit.

URB is a micro press (we only publish 2-4 titles/year). We have two series: the Floodgate Poetry Series, which is published annually and contains three poetry chapbooks per volume, and the Women Up To No Good series, which is published more irregularly and features dark fiction by and about women. We also publish anthologies, novellas, and single-author poetry and short story collections. … My best business decision so far was one that I didn’t realize would be a good decision when I made it. I was pitched an anthology by H.L. Nelson of dark, horror, and speculative fiction by women, which eventually became Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good. I thought it would do alright, but would mostly just be a lot of fun to work on. I released it the same month as our immigrant science fiction anthology How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, which got a decent amount of press for a small press title, getting mentions in Strange Horizons, Dark Matters, Gnome Reviews, and Boing Boing. But Choose Wisely, which was mentioned only in Best New Fiction and InDigest, outsold How to Live on Other Planets two to one, and eventually got a nomination for a This Is Horror award. (And it was every bit as much fun as I expected to put together.)

Now more than ever, it seems vital to work toward understanding each other. So this month I asked a few writer friends to tell me about books with protagonists who taught them what it was like to truly walk in someone else’s shoes—someone very different from themselves. Here are our top ten recommendations.

There is a lot more to Underground Book Reviews than just great reviews and books. We’re a gateway to blogs and articles from high-quality authors. You could browse Underground Book Reviews for hours, finding tips on writing, author resources, and enjoyable articles on many subjects. This week, Talpa brings you five members from the UBR Community of Authors.

Other than reading obsessively, I’ve been keeping my promise and surfing the internet so you don’t have to. Here are a few blogs and articles, plucked fresh from this week’s interwebs, and brought to you by Yours Truly, Underground Book Review’s official spokes model. You can thank me later.

You know what book I’m reading now? Not yours, that’s what. Because you haven’t finished writing it, because your too damn busy looking at cute cat videos and getting pissed off at someone else’s political posts. I know that’s harsh, but too many of you indie authors are surfing the net instead of writing your next book.  Don’t worry, I have good news. Talpa is here to help. From now on, I’m going to surf the internet for you.

To be clear, I’m not paranoid. I’m not an ageing comedian baffled at college kids (yet.) I’m not going to use the term SJW (except for just then, obviously.) I am not gunning for political correctness. What I am talking about are people, on all sides of the political spectrum, who isolate a phrase or word from its context to make a judgement on a work as a whole, or the character of the author as a whole.

Writing dialogue is tricky. It needs to sound realistic, but it can’t be too realistic. We all want our characters to sound like real people, but when people talk, there are a lot of unnecessary words tossed around. As writers, we have to carefully craft what our characters say so that the words seems effortless, but yet serve a purpose. So how do you create killer dialogue that seems effortless and does its job? Read on.

I’m talking of course about your New Years Resolutions. Other, lesser mortals may have made promises about gym memberships, healthy eating, and to stop having faith that The Walking Dead will become interesting again. Not you, though, because you’re a writer. You promised loudly that you were going to write the ever loving crap out of 2017.

A penis doesn’t make a character an alien creature with unfathomable motivations or desires.

There’s no money in short stories, you might be saying. Why bother? Well, you’re wrong. it can be profitable, but that’s not the main reason you should write it.

And yet, and yet, they spit on us still, those high fallutin’ types. Those snobs who snatch only the best of what we love, and call us sad for having loved it. Those trend watchers who invented the YA genre so they wouldn’t have to admit they liked kid’s books. Those phonies who’ll shun the time traveller, but gush over The Time Traveller’s Wife.

I believe that every one of us has a novel inside them. We can all write a story, and we can all find folks who will love it. However, that doesn’t mean we all should publish.

Last week we discussed writing style and how voice is an important element of a good one. But what the heck is “voice” when referring to writing. Well, let’s see…

Style is a complex element in fiction writing, because it’s mostly subjective. There is often no right or wrong, so it’s hard to tell if your style is “good.”

As a writer, I’m torn. I enjoy the discovery that happens while writing, as many of us do. I delight in letting characters develop organically, based on decisions they make and conflicts they create. Part of the joy of writing for me is having surprises happen along the way. But sometimes that’s the hardest way to write.

Brand might seem like a word a marketing executive says before she eats a live baby or however it is they work their terrible magics, but if you’re an author and you’re shilling your books then you have a brand whether you realise it or not. Social media is your platform, how you behave on social media, how you are perceived on social media, is your brand.

A virtual launch party is an online event where you promote your book. It’s like a regular launch party (which might be held at a library, bookstore or bar/restaurant-type of place), but you get to do it from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, or naked. Whatever floats your boat.

As I tried to answer this how do I do it question, I realized it’s not really that amazing. Not even impressive. First, I get up early, stay up late, and second, I follow a few “rules” that help keep the words flowing.

…if I only wrote what I knew, I’d be limited to female characters in small towns who went to work every day, engaged in awkward, but not unpleasant sex, and swore a lot… and had a lot of physical injuries, and who gorged on potato chips and Netflix.

While the big time players are charging rhinos, we Indies are rabbits— we’re small, we’re fast and we’re constantly reproducing. We can whip up a transgender vampire litRPG before a bunch of marketing executives can discover whether kids are still saying ’On Fleek’ or not. (They’re not.)

When did we become a nation of back-patting do-gooders? Why is it so wrong to tell someone we don’t like something? When did we decide we’re never going to say anything negative ever again?

Throw away the guilt, because there is only one person whose happiness you can control.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King

Luck is only part of this story. The rest is about perseverance, research, and partnerships. After my hiatus (those years my book lived in a folder in the guts of my laptop), I got serious about fixing the flaws in my book. I found some great resources and a top-notch beta reader—and found a great publisher just a few months later. Can you replicate all of this? YES. You have a story. What are the top three things you can do to get your manuscript in a publisher’s hands?

Audio books are not just here to stay, they’re a big part of the future for those of us who read, write and love stories.

…social media for authors is exactly what we make of it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

In this industry, and by “this” I mean the publishing industry, it’s easy to believe in gods. It’s comforting to know that somewhere out there, someone’s got it all figured out.

There’s a lot of advice out there from people who haven’t surfed the wave of mass popularity, and aren’t household names, and in many ways this advice is more pertinent to you and I, the indie author. After all, there’s a lot of luck that goes into being a megastar, but becoming an artist in your own right is all about you- the work you put in, and the way you educate yourself.

Some writers pen plot-driven tales, while others, like me, prefer to let the characters shine. Some of us achieve a balance between both plot and character, where both are equally important. Whichever way you write; characterization is always crucial to creating a memorable story.

In adulthood, bullying simply becomes more refined, and we have to deal with it in different ways, because you can’t get your mama to tell his mama what a dick her kid is being. You may live by the old advice to ignore a bully and they’ll go away. You’re a grownup now.

Thirteen months ago, I published the first Pryal Style column here on Underground Book Reviews. Today, I publish the final column, which happens to be the thirteenth (despite my triskaidekaphobia).

If you’re planning on using current technological implications to shape your future world, then Future Stress is something that is bound to affect you— now so more than ever. So how to deal with? Booze? Well, yes, but also other things…

Need book reviews? Those little buggers are hard to get. I thought I understood the game, but my paltry review numbers on Amazon are evidence that I do not. Or are they?

Some of you might think who you are doesn’t impact your book sales. I mean, what matters is that you wrote a kickass book, right? Pfft. Don’t kid yourselves. Your likability is important to a reader.

This column, the follow-up to my last column, delves deeper into suggestions for how you might design and use your author website, including suggestions for design and blogging.

You are going to burst onto the public scene like Athena. You will not apologize. You will not be “beta” or “just figuring this thing out.” Like James Bond, you will be a pro from the get-go.

Say you’re a musician. A good one. Damn good. You dream of being a rock star, of people finding special meaning in your words, of listening to what you have to say, of snorting cocaine from various parts of your body.  Maybe you get there, maybe you sort of get there, but more likely you don’t, and realise that you probably never will. So what do you do? Give up? No. Maybe you start busking, maybe you join a covers band, maybe you become a session musician. You’re not a rock star, but you’re getting paid for what you love, and that is as much a dream as any of us can hope to achieve.

The implication, made by other writers primarily, that creative minds are predisposed to mental instability is irritating, and it’s insulting to those actually suffering from mental illness. Writers are not crazy. Crazy is not a requirement for success in this industry. In fact, I imagine it’d be a hindrance, but that’s just me.

To me, writing is art. Fiction is a powerful form of creative expression. My goal is to be original and fresh. I want readers to say, “Wow, I’ve never considered that before” or “Day-um! I can’t believe she went there.”