Wynter and her brothers are ready to rock venues all over Seattle. No one can deny the natural chemistry Rule212 has on stage. Behind the scenes there's tension brewing.It's not easy to work, play, and live together. Family means everything to Wynter and she'll do whatever it takes to keep it together.But something at the very heart of this family is ripping it apart. They are finally learning that things went wrong years before they were born. No secrets or lies—it's one of Caleb's house rules. So why does everyone keep breaking it?
Monday, September 21, 2020
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Firstly, because it was the first book where I was starting from scratch. While I wrote half a million stream-of-consciousness words a few years ago that became the basis for all ten books, once I put the scenes in order, I only "completed" 8 books before I started publishing book 1 on Wattpad. I don't really mean completed, as I was rewriting and editing (and adding thousands of words to) the books as I published them, but essentially the plotting and two-thirds of the writing was done.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Gone are the days when writers had to spend hours in the library researching how to care for their character's pet python, or on the phone exploring the price of a plane ticket, or at the bookcase in the next room flicking through classic novels to find the perfect quote.
Everything's at our fingertips - and not just for researching our stories, but for editing and publishing our books as well. Here I'm focusing on some of my most-used tools and websites, and they're all free. Some do have paid services that expand the options available, and for others you will need to make an account (often, signing in via Facebook or Google is possible).
I've mentioned a couple of these tools before, and added lots of new ones.
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
I bought myself a new guitar, which I'll write about soon, but here's my daughter - then (age 2) with the Rock Band controller guitar, and now (age 10) with the new, actual, real guitar. Despite no amp she says it's already "too loud". Four+ months of remote learning at home has apparently lowered her tolerance for noise.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
It's not really a spoiler to say that in the forthcoming and final book of the Wynter Wild series (The Beat Goes On), Xay Morant is going to launch his singing career. He's a rockstar through and through (or will be, he hopes!) - and I've put together this playlist to give you an idea of the kind of music he sings.
If you don't listen to anthemic rock music (as opposed to the indie rock of Rule212), these songs might be an eyeopener. They're mostly from current but not particularly huge bands (in some cases, unknown bands) including a couple of covers. In style and lyrical content they represent the spirit of Xay's music. Cigarette-lighter songs included!
Monday, July 27, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
In this book, Wynter puts together her first all-girl (well, not quite) band. While she'd love to be playing just about every song with the amp turned to 11 to maximize distortion, the Mail Order Chicks play mostly 80s and 90s British pop. This story also sees the genesis of the rock band she puts together with her brothers.
"Distortion" refers to how the siblings' mother, Miriam, has affected her children by her actions years ago. Particularly for Indio, he believes the ongoing absence of maternal love is what has formed him, rather than the abandonment itself:
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Little Sister Song (Book 1) is available here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
Monday, June 8, 2020
Monday, April 27, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
These days the voices available for this sort of software are pretty good. They sound human, although they don't always do correct phrasing, but it's good enough to get a feel for the rhythm of your prose and to pick up typos and repeated words.
Friday, March 13, 2020
For those of you less familiar with babies or who don't remember (like me!) what they are like at different ages, click on the image above for a 20-second video of a baby the same age as the one you might be reading about if you're reading my books.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
After the 2019 awards I was vocal about two major problems (as I saw them): that previously published authors won two awards (I wrote about this and the outcomes here), and the rules book was misleading, contradictory, repetitive, and dense, with valid questions from Wattpadders seeking clarification going unanswered by Wattpad staff.
This year the Wattys have changed in two major ways, one of which makes business sense and the other is just common sense:
1. Only novels 50K are eligible (no non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, novellas, short stories) - Given Wattpad is looking to publish the winner(s), they won't make money from anything shorter than a novel. To recognize these other types of writing, they will have other contests later in the year.
2. Only finished stories are eligible. Last year, one of the judging criterion was (obviously) plot - does it have a beginning, middle, and satisfying end? It befuddled me at the time how this was supposed to be judged when the story was unfinished.
So far, so good.
But I have gripes.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Saturday, February 8, 2020
In my next post I'll show you some of the other characters' homes and hangouts.
Anaconda, MTIn Minor Key (book 8), the family visits the two homes in Montana where the boys grew up (at least, the last two homes they lived in - they moved around with Miriam before this).
Friday, February 7, 2020
Early on I found houses to match each of the places Wynter and the boys have lived in. I looked for houses the right size and price (using Zillow estimates for the year in question, where possible), and in the right location. This helped me enormously in visualizing my scenes. Zillow also sometimes has photos of the interiors (when they've recently been on the market).
Below are screenshots of some of the homes mentioned in books 1 to 8. They're not necessarily perfectly matched to the way I ended up describing the buildings, but most are real homes in the actual neighborhoods given in the books. I've listed them in the order they appear in the books, not the order they were lived in.
Seattle house, Columbia City, Seattle WA
Monday, February 3, 2020
The silly season is over, the child is back at school, and I've finally managed to get Duet out there. The book is available on Amazon Kindle at these links
or purchase from Smashwords in multiple formats.
As always, I truly appreciate the support of my readers and ask you to please consider writing an honest review at Goodreads. It's the best way to support indie authors!
Friday, January 31, 2020
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Monday, January 27, 2020
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Fellow writers might also be interested in my earlier post, Personality Typing for Made-Up People.
I did personality tests on my characters about one year into writing, when they already pretty well established in my head and on the page. I thought it would be interesting to see how closely they matched the established "types", and also knew it would generate some ideas for how they deal with stress, and with each other (particularly what causes conflict).
I became interested in this method of personality typing a couple of decades ago. 16Personalities is a useful summary site to familiarize yourself with the 16 types and take the test yourself if you want. (Not all sites use the same "shorthand" descriptor, e.g. "debater" for ENTP, but the idea is the same.) It's up to you whether you find this psychological approach useful for real people, but as a writer I do find it useful for character generation - or, in this case, for delving deeper into characters I'd already created.
I'm writing these posts in the midst of editing (and uploading to Wattpad) book 8, so there may be minor spoilers if you haven't read that far. Read about:
Jesse: the "debater"
Jesse's personality type is ENTP - the "debater". Let's break it down:
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Barring unforseen diversions and detours, this is the route their three-week tour will take them, starting in Aurora CO, ending in Seattle WA:
Thursday, November 14, 2019
I keep a detailed spreadsheet with a separate column for each major character, and a day-by-day accounting of events. For example, here's a screenshot showing the entries for book 1 (and some of book 2) (click to enlarge):
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
The story is linear but characters frequently mention past events. To make everything consistent, I kept a spreadsheet of events in the characters' lives. While writing book 6, which introduces backstory from the previous generation, I took the timeline all the way back to 1963 when Bill Brown and Sylvia Heathcote (Ellie's parents) got married in Vermont.
Below is the timeline of events prior to the start of Little Sister Song (book 1). Note that there are major spoilers here from books 1 to 7. Coming up next will be the timeline that the first few books cover.
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Monday, November 4, 2019
She's not much of a dress girl, but in keeping with social convention she borrowed an appropriate bridesmaid dress from Dusk and it looks something like this (along with the dendrobium orchid corsage):
Saturday, November 2, 2019
... Not realizing you need an electrical engineering degree to assemble it! Where's Jesse when I need him?
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
I wanted a long row of spines, with tail attached, that I could pin onto the costume after the wings were harnessed on. I cut two 3cm-wide strips of plastic sheet (from a poster frame), but you could use sturdy card although it won't give the tail the same "bounce" as plastic does. Whatever you use, it needs to be something with firm edges, so you can pull the felt triangles around it, which forces the triangles to stand up straight.
For the spines my daughter chose white glitter felt, which comes in A4 sheets. You could use card, maybe metallic-coated or with a pattern, in a color that matches the rest of the costume. It needs to be able to stand up by itself.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
I boldly said I'd make her dragon wings, and rather than the soft type hanging from the arms, I decided to make proper shaped wings coming out of her back. I don't know what I was thinking! But my husband cleared his weekend D&D game off the trestle tables so I had a big workspace, and today I finished them (other than the harness). I thought I'd share how I made them.
Initially I found an online tutorial showing how to turn two kites into amazing wings, and I tried to replicate this. The only suitable kites I could find were rainbow colored. White spray paint failed to cover the color (it just doesn't stick to that fabric, and isn't thick enough), so I decided to start from scratch using white garbage bags and garden wire.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
This reminded me of a story my dad likes to tell about his father, John (Jack) Creasy, born in 1899. Jack was a chemist whose company, Titanine Ltd., supplied the nitrocellulose paint, otherwise known as "dope", for fabric used to cover the R101. After the ship was built, his team went on a tour of the airship. The story goes that Jack was so horrified by the workmanship, he declined a free ticket for its maiden overseas voyage to India in October 1930.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
The ebook is now available for purchase for a teeny tiny price:
Amazon USA (US$2.99)
It's also available in multiple formats on Smashwords, and through other online retailers. (BTW I accidentally pasted the book 7 description into the Amazon upload, and it'll take a day or two to fix. Big oops! Even I get confused when I'm working on three different books in the series at the same time.)
Friday, October 18, 2019
I started uploading my Wynter Wild series to Wattpad in December 2018, which in theory made the first few books eligible for the 2019 Wattys. I'd never heard of the Wattys until I joined Wattpad, but of course I considered entering Little Sister Song, come June, for the chance to become one of the ~60 winners. An award is great exposure for any writer using this platform where there are 500 million stories fighting for attention.
When I read the rules and found that published works were ineligible, I had to put that idea aside. (At the time, the later books in the series that weren't yet published were eligible, but I saw no point in entering book 5 or 6 of a long series, as it's necessary to read them in order.)
But back to those Wattys winners: On a hunch, I searched for one of the stories on Amazon and discovered it was self-published earlier this year (same title, author, and cover). I checked the other winners and found a second winning story on Amazon.
This blog post is partly a bitchfest about why ineligible stories won the award when I (and no doubt many others) specifically gave up our chance and did not enter because of the exclusivity rule. Yes, the chances of winning are miniscule—for example, your story has to impress a "Story DNA" computer algorithm before a human even lays eyes on it—but that's not the point. And it's partly a piece of advice to Wattpad to get their house in order and be more professional about their contest, to avoid this problem reoccuring.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Monday, October 7, 2019
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Link to Spotify playlist.
You can find a more extensive playlist from the Wynter Wild books in this blog post.
Thursday, October 3, 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Caleb's bike is the 1985 Honda V65 Magna. It was manufactured for a few years during the mid 80s, and as the first power cruiser it really was called the "Beast", V4 engine, 1100cc, 116 horse power, with fast acceleration, low vibration, and high top speed. The bike below (1983 model) includes the "goofy" saddle bags that Caleb is so proud of. All photos from bikez.com. Click the images for more info.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
These are two songs Rule212 plays at the Christmas party:
- Wham!'s Last Christmas (similar to this cover)
- A lively guitar-rock instrumental of We Wish You a Merry Christmas for the finale.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Wynter is now fully in the swing of playing live gigs around Seattle, and sometimes farther afield. She lives for that hour on stage, a bubble of music shared with her brothers while the audience clamors for more. Offstage, things aren't running quite as smootly.
I'm working on editing these chapters, uploading as I go, and also getting book 6 ready to publish as an ebook.
Saturday, September 7, 2019
I keep a list of every named character, along with a brief description, if given (I tend not to over-describe them), and when they were first introduced. Currently the list has grown to over 300 names. Many of these are obviously minor characters or even off-hand references to people who never appear on-screen, but I've tried nevertheless to keep the names distinct.
Friday, August 23, 2019
As you work through the steps via your KDP dashboard, you'll reach the area where you create your cover. Unless you have experience creating wraparound covers, with the correct spine width, you'll want to choose the first option: Use Cover Creator to make your book cover. Then click the Launch Cover Creator button.
The cover has three parts - front, spine, and back. Click the Choose Layout icon and select a layout from the premade templates. These all affect how the back cover will look. If you want an author bio and photo, there are a few different options there. I have nothing but the blurb on my back cover, so I select the final option:
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Out of Tune (Book 2)
Rhythm & Rhyme (Book 3)
I wrote a blog series on formatting your paperback, which you can read starting here: Nitty-Gritty Formatting for Print Books: Making Word Do What You Want, Part 1
Amazon makes this process - in theory - easy to do via your KDP dashboard. You can either use their inbuilt formatter, which is actually not that easy if you're fussy about a particular look, or reformat your own Word file and upload that.
Which is what I did, before remembering that it's even better to "save as" a pdf and upload that. It's important to embed your fonts when creating the pdf, which in Word 10 is done like this:
Saturday, August 3, 2019
Things have changed in the last 20 years, and now we have Wattpad.
Wattpad provides authors with a free platform and huge potential audience for their work, and readers can read their books for free. Then Wattpad introduced paid stories, where select authors are invited to put their work behind a paywall. From comments I've read, some readers were up in arms about this because they didn't want to pay for what they used to get for free. Personally I think it's an excellent idea to have a paid tier, but I'm biased toward paying people for the work they do.
Friday, August 2, 2019
It's since expanded into individual boards for each of the main characters - not that I can imagine any but Wynter actually using Pinterest.
So far I've made the following boards:
Monday, July 29, 2019
Sunday, July 28, 2019
My book characters got Instagram accounts!
It's mostly just the three of them talking to each other in comments, but feel free to follow and say hi. They don't know they're book characters, so they can't see comments that break the fourth wall. Don't go dropping spoilers or asking them what it's like to be a book character, for example.
Also Caleb, although he refused to get a personal account so it's for band news.
I also made a website for Rule212 for no apparent reason and there's nothing there...
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Like my other titles, there is a double meaning to this one which becomes apparent as you read the book.
Natural Harmonics will be on Wattpad in a few weeks. I also plan to release Distortion (book 5) as an ebook soon, and books 2 and 3 as paperbacks.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
I'm constantly disappointed by science fiction movies these days, and after watching Netflix's Prospect (2018) tonight, I've figured out why.
When it comes to science fiction, my favorite trope is "gritty spaceship and rag-tag crew". It's why I wrote the Scarabaeus series. Midway through writing that book, I remember reading about a forthcoming "gritty spaceship with ragtag crew" series called Firefly and I felt like Joss Whedon had extracted it from my head. (My husband now tells me it's all just Starcraft, which I'd never heard of.)
Anyway, I don't know why I like gritty spaceships and ragtag crews but that's my preferred subgenre. The sci-fi tropes I enjoy less are horror elements, bodysnatching in all its guises, a present or near-future setting, or post-apocalyptic setting, supernatural or magical technology, and gimmicks like time travel. There are movies with these elements that I've enjoyed, but they don't capture my imagination so well.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
So I've started posting book 5 of the Wynter Wild series to Wattpad, where you can read it for free. The blurb is below.
The title Distortion follows the musical theme of the previous books, and refers to what's going on in this family and in Wynter's life in particular.
Wynter has grown on me more and more as I've been writing these books. She made herself a "blank slate" when she left the cult-like ashram, realizing that to survive she needed to fit in and forget the past. Of course no one can completely put the past behind them, and in Distortion everyone is realizing just how much the past, specifically their mother, still affects them today. It has distorted Wynter's new identity, her social abilities, her concept of love, and her relationships.
Sunday, May 5, 2019
I'm not necessarily a huge fan of all these songs. They're just the ones that get a mention. The majority are classics because, as Indio says, no one's playing rock n' roll anymore...
A few notes about where the songs appear:
Indio gave Jenny the sheet music to The Devil Went Down to Georgia for her birthday.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
On Wattpad, where I'm uploading the book, readers skew young. The stats say 30% of my readers are under 18, 30% are 18-25, 30% are unspecified, and the remaining 10% are 25+. YA, of course, is read as eagerly by adults as by teens, but the expectations are the same: as a publishing genre, YA by definition deals with teen concerns.
The Wynter Wild series isn't YA. Three of my POV characters are adults, but the New Adult label doesn't fit either because (1) they are male, and (2) their stories aren't romances. I used to refer to the series as a Family Saga although it only covers a few years. An author who rated the series on Goodreads called it "New Adult Family Saga" and I like that... but it's not a genre that publishers recognize. (Publishers need to know where to "shelve" a book and a random crossover is a hard sell.)
In addition to publishing genres, there are Wattpad genres - not only main categories such as General Fiction (where I put this series) and Teen Fiction, but also tags by which readers can search for what they like. My series has certain tags for visibility, such as teen and cult and music, as well as the popular "little sister/older brothers"-type tags (a subgenre I never knew existed when I wrote the series). This subgenre comes with expectations of its own that I can't fulfill...
Friday, April 19, 2019
The alignment of text in a novel is fully justified, meaning the left and right margins are flush (even). The software achieves this by stretching out the spaces between words to a greater or lesser extent. Professional layout software also adjusts letter spacing (to a less obvious extent), which Word doesn't do.
The longer the words you use, and the larger the font (i.e. the shorter the line length), the more likely it is you'll get ugly spaces between words. In the sample below (I've increased font size to emphasize the problem), the first paragraph looks fine, but the words in the second paragraph are widely spaced because the word "important" didn't fit on the previous line:
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Can a word processor like Microsoft Word replicate professional layout software? The answer is no, but you can come close. In the next two posts I'll look at two things layout software does with ease to make a book look nicer, and which you can sort-of replicate in Word... but with warnings and caveats. Today, page length.
Sunday, April 14, 2019
So, below is the plan with the room assignment when they first move in (it changes over time, and the furniture isn't accurate - e.g. some bedrooms are "junk rooms" rather than having beds in them).
Shown here is the first floor (what we call the "ground floor" in the UK and Australia) of the house on the right, with the basement on the left slotting underneath, and the second floor on the left fitting directly on top.
This gives you an idea of what the deck looks like, as it wasn't visible in the front-view image in the previous post.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
This house becomes a character in its own right in the series, so I spent some time imagining it, drawing the plans, and eventually mocking up a view from the front. The house is eccentric, which in this case is another way of saying *ugly*, built in stages over the years.
I think I have a slight obsession with houses. We grew up with huge drawerfuls of Lego, and all I ever made with Lego was houses. I didn't play with the houses. I just made them. The three most fun parts about making Lego houses were:
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
I am a terrible salesperson and it's never really bothered me. Now that I'm taking the indie publishing route, apparently I have to start doing the sales thing. I've read all kinds of advice on how to market books, and I've been going about it sort of haphazardly. I am trying a particular marketing strategy in the pricing of my books, although I'm not sure I'll stick to it.
Books 1 to 4 in the Wynter Wild series have been, or will be, uploaded first to Wattpad. I chose that platform because it's huge, it allows for immediate interaction with readers, which I love, and it's free to use for everyone. Wattpad has a young-skewing audience, many of whom don't (and probably won't ever) pay for ebooks, so it's been more of a testing ground to discover readers' reactions.
I always intended to release Little Sister Song as a free ebook to generate some interest in the series, and I've also released book 2 Out of Tune for free as well.
So now I need to formulate a marketing strategy for the remaining books (7.5 of which are written).
Monday, April 8, 2019
Commercial novels usually use serif fonts for the body text (although you'll find sans serif in YA and children's titles). It's allegedly easier to read because the serifs group the letters together so that the eye more easily sees a single word as it travels over the page. Readers are probably therefore more used to seeing serif fonts, and for the body text I think it's a good idea to use them. Chapter headers can be anything you like, of course, as long as they're legible.
Google "best fonts for a novel" and you'll find lots of lists of recommendations. But aside from how the font looks, and whether you can afford it (or whether your free fonts have a commercial license), there are some other considerations. All the fonts mentioned below are free (or come with Word).
Buy at Amazon US
Buy at Amazon UK
Unfortunately, Amazon Australia doesn't offer this service so my Aussie readers will have to order from Amazon US and pay shipping. Even I wasn't able to order a proof copy, so please let me know if you do order the book and discover something horribly wrong with it!
I worked for many years as an editor, helping to create books with other people's names on the cover. I remember the thrill of receiving my box of author copies of Song of Scarabaeus and holding in my hands a book with my name on the cover.
And this time, the book with my name on the cover is one I wrote, edited, and formatted as an indie publisher!
My current blog series looks in-depth at formatting your manuscript for a print book,
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Font size for your main body text is the one you've probably thought about the most. You may decide to deliberately use a large font for the visually impaired, but if not then take a look at a commercial novel and compare it to a printed page of yours. The biggest error I see is using too large a font. This makes your book more expensive for readers (or lowers your profit) because it'll increase the length of your book, and it doesn't look professional.