Tag Archives: Jonathan Maberry

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #6: Belay that Opinion, Captain.

Your writing is not as god or as bad as you think. If you think you are the best author out there, you probably aren’t. If you are sure you stink, you probably don’t. (At least maybe not as bad as you think)

You are probably somewhere in-between.  Even published authors are not the greatest writers ever.  They just came up with something that resonated with someone.

If you love what you do, move forward with it.  If you are good, someone will stand up and take notice.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

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Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #5: Please Sir, May I have another?

Writing and Critique groups are like potato chips – you can never eat just one.

Each writer’s group you find will offer something different.

For example, in my area there is a writer’s group that looks for odd places to write.  They set up folding chairs by the lake, for instance, looking for inspiration.  Is that for me?  Ummmm.  No.  I like my solitary computer, thank you.  But this works for some people.

Some writers groups charge a fee, but they give you great speakers in return.  If you think that the speakers are of value to you, then it is okay to pay extra.  If you are looking just to meet people, you might not want that extra perk.

Look around, and join a few if you can.  The worst thing that can happen is you make a few friends.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #3: Congratulations! You stink!

Do you know how bad you stink?

If not, read “How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey.  Jon Gibbs is at least the tenth person who has mentioned this book.  I need to get off my butt and get a copy.

Here’s what Jon had to say, taking into account what he learned from this book:

Realize that you stink.  It’s okay to stink, but once you realize just how awful you are, you need to find out what you need to learn to get better, or just up and quit.

Some people just like to write for personal reasons and don’t want to get published – like those “too much description” people.  Yes, you are writing beautiful prose, but it is probably not marketable prose within the boundaries of today’s buying trends – you need to pull the reader in right away with action.

So, if you are one of those “epic setting” people, that’s fine.  If that is what you want to do, go for it.  Just don’t expect a huge financial reward at the end of your rainbow.

Realistically, there is no pot of gold at the end of most writing rainbows, so if you are not committed to this because you love to write, chances are you will be sorely disappointed.

However, there are a handful of authors every year who shock everyone and take a roller-coaster ride to the top.

Who knows?  It might be you.

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #5 Giving up too soon

This is the last post on “Biggest Mistakes, and I think it is the most important.  Take a deep breath, and read slowly and carefully.

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (scroll down below for the list of authors), the authors discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.

This is really important, because the temptation to take the “easy road” is there, blinking and coaxing every day.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready.

I’m going to say it again.

Don’t throw your novel out to self-publishing if you are not ready. 

Say that line over a few times.  Make it stick in your head, then continue…

I have a friend who actually did “go through the motions”  They put their novel out there, and were getting rejections.  They then decided it might be a good idea to get some beta readers. (Okay, they did that part in the wrong order, but at least they realized what they did)  After about ten or so beta reads, they came across me.

“The barracuda” attacked with reckless abandon.  (As nice as I could possibly be, of course) I knew EXACTLY why this wonderful, elaborate very imaginative story was not being published… I explained over and over in great detail.  They revised, but only slightly.  They did not want to ruin their “artistic integrity”.

That book is now self-published… with exactly the same beginning that I ripped to heck and back.  I feel horrible about it.  It is not selling.  Now… that is not to say that I’m always right.  I can be wrong.  This time, I wish I was.

Remember:  Most e-book channels let you read the first few pages just like if you are in a bookstore.  The first few pages of this novel are BORING.

Is it a great story?  YES.  Is it original?  YES.  Did the author make all the mistakes noted in the “biggest mistakes”?  Unfortunately, YES.  (Sorry BK)  I dearly, dearly hope I am wrong, because this is a great story, and they put a lot of work into their baby.  Right now, my heart is sinking over it.

If one person tells you something you do not want to hear.  Consider it.  If two people say something, think hard about it.  If three or more people say the same thing, suck it up and admit you are wrong.

Try to get a publisher first, and try long and hard.  Don’t put out something sub-standard just because you are in a rush or afraid of the process, or don’t agree with the feedback.  That first novel can haunt you for the rest of your life… and you never know, you just might end up with a “Gold Mine Manuscript” rejection that will change your outlook completely, if you are open enough to their suggestions.

Is self-publishing okay?  Sure.  For some authors.

Just Please Please Please make sure you are ready.  I have read quite a few self-published novels that were not ready.  It’s a shame, because I would be hesitant to take a chance on another novel by any of these authors.

If you do self-publish, AND YOU HAVE TAKEN THE STEPS TO BE SURE YOU ARE READY, check out Daniel Ottalini’s blog for a great checklist to make sure you follow through to give your novel a chance.

Jonathan Maberry: www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail: www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail: www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs: www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard: www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella: www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #3: Nope, you can’t explain yourself. Sorry, not allowed!

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mike McPhail commented that you CANNOT explain your novel to people.

Think about that. 

What Mike said is that you are not going to be there to explain anything about your novel.  It needs to stand on its own with no questions.  If it can’t stand on its own, you are not going to find a publisher (and remember, he’s a publisher as well as a writer)

I recently read a review from a “self-published” author that said:  “Just get through the first few chapters… you’ll be glad you did.”

I can’t help but wonder if they asked a friend to say that… This is probably why they self-published.  Why would you start your novel out weak?  Personally, if I’m not engaged in the first few pages, the book goes back on the shelf.

I wonder if this person ever had beta readers.

Note:  I would never let a beta-read pass with a bad first page, let alone a bad first few chapters.  That’s like literary suicide in my book.

Make sure your novel can stand on its own, and for goodness sake, if you feel like you have to apologize for your first few chapters CHANGE THEM!

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Authors Make #2—Jumping the gun- Writing Non-linearly

At a recent Author’s panel discussion, Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella discussed the biggest mistakes they believe writers make.

Mistake number two was not writing linearly, which means not writing your story from start to finish, beginning to end, without jumping around.

Everyone gets great ideas while they are writing.  When you get one that happens later in the story, do you stop and write it?  I admit, I do this all the time.

To keep yourself moving, have a folder called “revision notes”.  Rather than jumping back to something you wish you wrote, or hopping forward to a great idea you have… place the idea in a “notes folder” so you don’t forget it, and then keep writing.  This will keep you focused on where you are.

I admit I am guilty of this in a big way.  I have whole chapters that are written that will not appear until book five or six, and I don’t have book one published yet… This is why book one probably needed so much editing.

Who else is guilty of this little gem?

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make #1 – Avoid the Dreaded Delete Frenzy

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published”, a group of published authors discussed the biggest mistakes they think new writers make.  Boy did they have a long list!

The panel consisted of: Jonathan Maberry, Mike McPhail, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jon Gibbs, Jennifer R. Hubbard, and Kristin Battestella.

As always, I love learning from mistakes others have made, and I truly appreciate them sharing what NOT TO DO.

Rather than making this an insanely long post— and since Friday is now open—

This is going to be my new “Friday Night” slot… Biggest Mistakes New Writers make.

Mistake Number one:

.

.

It is really easy as a new writer to get frustrated, and go on a delete frenzy.  The problem is, the days of crumbling up paper and throwing it into a garbage can are over.  You can’t take your deleted file out of the trash, smooth it out, and look at it again.  Once you delete… it is gone.

Deleting in a frenzy can lead to loss of very valuable work.  Especially if you are really emotional when you are editing (we authors never do that, right?)

Trust me, you may think everything you’ve written stinks now, but you may find you need to refer back to part of it later.  Even if you don’t use it, it is part of your back story, and you may need to review it to keep your story consistent.

The Author Panel suggested keeping a side file and don’t actually delete anything. Just drag and drop.  If you never want to see it again, just don’t open the file.  But if you do—

From my own experience, I know I always change my mind.  There is a huge scene near the end of my novel where one character gets his memory back.  I have re-written the scene five times, and they are all dramatically different.  You know where I landed?  With my very first draft.  I was putting so many plot twists and turns in the revisions that the scene became confusing.  I did need to re-write it a little, but I stuck with my original idea.  Believe me, a year later, I was glad I had a copy to refer back to.

Avoid the dreaded Delete Frenzy.  Make a cozy little file. Call it a nasty name if it makes you feel better.  Someday, you may thank me.  🙂

Jonathan Maberry:  www.Jonathanmaberry.com

Mike McPhail:  www.mcp-concepts.com

Danielle Ackley-McPhail:  www.sidhenadaire.com

Jon Gibbs:  www.acatofninetales.com

Jennifer R. Hubbard:  www.jenniferhubbard.com

Kristin Battestella:  www.jsnouff.com/kristin

Is your novel safe? The Copyright Question.

As many of you know, I am about to send my novel out for the final polishing round of beta-reads.  A few people have asked me, “Is that safe?” or “Are you going to copyright it first?”

The answers to those questions are:  Yes, it is safe, and No, I will not be copyrighting it first.  Let me explain…

I had the same hesitation when I first started sending to Beta Partners a little over a year ago.  I read a few articles that said not to worry about it.  The one I trusted the most was Nathan Bransford, who said there is too much of an electronic trail for anyone to be able to easily steal your work.

Recently, when I had the opportunity to discuss the topic with Best Selling Author Jonathan Mayberry.  He said that many publishers will not even deal with you if you have already copyrighted the work.  (Although Danielle Ackley McPhail admitted to getting her first novel copyrighted first and not having any problem.)

When I was a kid, before the World Wide Web was in everyone’s homes (Wow, did I just date myself)  The way to “Protect Yourself” without actually copyrighting your novel was to get a printed copy, seal it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself.  Then don’t break the seal when you get it.  This way there is an official post mark on it.  This would probably work today.  However, there are easier ways in this new Cyber-Era.  And I am guessing a lot of you don’t know it, but you are already protected.

Jonathan Mayberry pointed out that YOUR HARD DRIVE is admissible as evidence.  Where is your novel stored and date-tagged?  On your hard drive?  Well, lookey there!

You can also simply email your novel to yourself, and then save the email.  Boom!  There’s your date stamp.

Are you worried about your Beta Readers stealing it?  Did you just email it to them?  Guess what?  That email is evidence that it was yours first.  There are just too many electronic data trails out there today to make it easy to steal someone else’s work.

I’ve also protected myself unintentionally by getting my novel printed on-line so my sister could read it. (Just a copy, it was not published)  It was cheaper than going to Kinko’s or using up my toner.  So there is a permanent record on file with that company.

These are all ways you can protect yourself.  You can, of course go for the copyright, but after hearing Jonathan’s comment that some publishers will not look at you if you are copyrighted, I’d be cautious (maybe check the requirements of some publishers, first)

If you do copyright, be prepared that you will have to “re-copyright” once your actual final draft is approved by your publisher.  Anyone who thinks their novel is so perfect that there will be no changes at all is just being foolish.

Note:  You might want to be careful if the publisher copyrights for you, to make sure that you still own the copyright.  If you will not, make sure you and your lawyers are comfortable with that agreement.

If you are self-publishing, you need to make a choice.  I think I’d copyright before I self-published.  It’s easy to do, and doesn’t really cost that much.  You also don’t have to wait to hear back from them.  You are good to go as soon as you hit the submit button.

Disclaimer:  I am not a lawyer, and I am in no way qualified to give legal advice.  These are just my opinions based off what professionals I have met (or read) have offered as advice.  If you have any real concerns, talk to your agent or lawyer.

Hope you find this helpful!

Finish Your Story Already!

At a recent NJ Author’s talk on “Getting Published” (Click here to read my post from that night), I got a great piece of advice from best-selling author Jonathan  Maberry.

With all this NANO buzz going around, I am reading multiple blogs that say many of you are writing “really fast” just to get your word count in, and then going back and editing it so it sounds better, and then you plow forward again to make your word count (now even more stressed because you took up your writing time editing).  REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.

Jon’s advice was not to re-write too soon.  He said to write your first draft all the way through. Once you are done, then you can go back and revise.  This is what he calls the “art of writing”.  He said that your first draft will concentrate on the substance… This is where the best part of the story comes out on the paper (or screen).

Don’t worry if it’s perfect… just get it all down and out of your head.  Once you have your idea all down in front of you, then you can concentrate on the “craft”.

Now is the time to add setting and character description if you missed  them the first draft.  Look at your punctuation, and watch for writing crutches and clichés.  Cut out scenes that don’t fit.  Re-write what’s just plain bad.  All this is part of the “craft” of writing.

So, if you’re NANOing, or just out there writing a great story at your own pace…  Don’t stress over it.  Enjoy the art of writing.  This is the best part for an author… having your vision materialize for others to read.

Worry about making it sound good later.  You will have plenty of time to edit when you’re all done.

Jennifer Eaton

Q & A Panel “Getting Published”

I know most of you are probably nowhere near NJ, but a few of you might be close enough to take advantage of this.  For those of you who can’t get there… If I can drag myself away from my kids for a night, I will take notes and share the wealth (as always)

Tuesday, November 1, 7 PM: Panel/Q&A, “GETTING PUBLISHED.” Cherry Hill Library (1100 Kings Highway North, Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08034-1911 ).  Jennifer R. Hubbard appearing with Jon Gibbs, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kristin Battestella,  Mike McPhail and Jonathan Maberry of the New Jersey Authors Network.