Adventures in Self Publishing – Part 2

Yes it’s time for an update.

Three things have happened since my last blog on the subject that bring me just a little bit closer to seeing my first self published work see the light of day. I got advice. I’ve been contacting actors. I have my edits back.

Fellow Sydney author Nic Starr met me for lunch to tell me how she balances her Dreamspinner Press work with her indie releases. Many good tips were shared, all dutifully entered into my journal.

Nic is a technical wiz when it comes to writing, and I got the ins and outs of who to go through to format my work, how to publicise, and what I should know about tax if I have to pay any to the US.

Although this information is easy to find on various blogs and forums, it’s refreshing to get this advice over a nice bottle of white and a plate of seafood. Plus we made a vow to attend GRL next year – a gay romance literary festival held in America each year.

Photo courtesy of Start Up Stock Photos

Secondly, I’ve been trying to get the right look…

I like to cast actors for my book trailers. As any author knows, social media is an integral part of your marketing, and even more so if you’re going it alone. And as this is a book about social media, it can’t be ignored.

So far I might have a nibble with casting the main character. He’s in Los Angeles at the moment but hopefully I’ll meet him next week when he returns. The sad thing is, three others I really wanted for the shoot now live in the US. Plus, two more that emailed me back stopped communication when I tried to set up a meeting.

This has happened to me before. It’s kind of like being on a dating site and finding time wasters. You wonder if these people are actually interested in adding more to their portfolio. But unless I’m casting through an agency with big bucks behind me, I guess this is what I have to expect.

Image by Edar, courtesy of Pixelbay

Now for my edits…

It’s my designated writing day today, so I’m about to close off this blog and read my notes. I’ve worked with this editor twice before, but for the first time, I’m footing the bill. I’ve had a glance at his ‘tough love’ notes and am now about to work on the final draft.

I promise to blog about this experience soon. But for now, it’s time to work!

 

Adding Adult Themes

Tomorrow the second novel in the Actors and Angels Series will be re-released.

This book is called Drama Queens and Adult Themes, and follows Drama Queens with Love Scenes. The third in the series, which has never before been released, will follow next month.

The idea for the plot of the second book came from the first – I know that’s stating the obvious, but bear with me. The first book takes place in The Limelight Quarter, which is the theatre district of the Afterlife. One of the plays that is performed in that book centres around a heterosexual couple and a younger man. A warlock has placed the spell of lust on all three, confusing them as they come to terms with their desires.

“What a great idea for a book,” I thought.

There was a whole year between when the first book in the series was originally contracted to Charles River Press, to when they were considering its release. So with all that time I did something odd for a sequel. I took the plot from that play and made it the plot of book two. 

In this second novel, the lovers from the first book are reincarnated. Yes, I know this sounds odd, but there is a chapter in the first where Allan sees his next life, so its not too much of a stretch for readers who have entered this world. Anyway, Allan and Warwick are now Adam and Wade. They are middle aged and both fascinated with a young man named Mannix.

Stills from the Book Trailer for Drama Queens and Adult Themes

Fabien and Ipan, the two warlocks that were in the play featured in the first book, could now come to life for the second. They were joined by a kind-hearted witch named Farah who originally existed in an earlier draft of the initial novel. And of course, Guy the angel, who surprised me by his popularity with readers, also made a return.

But then I had an issue with story structure.

The first book was written in first person. In the second, not everyone knows the whole story. I had a problem. Should I write in third person or tell the tale from different points of view? I opted for the latter, and carefully plotted so that each chapter continued where the last left off, even if another character was now telling the tale.

The previous edition from Wilde City Press. Sadly this publisher is no longer with us.

I only had one reviewer freak out about this. Everyone else was fine. In fact it was quite interesting to read who preferred which book. Half the time I was wrong in my assumptions about various reviewers.

So, I’m quietly raising a glass to the re-release of Drama Queens and Adult Themes. It’s nice to know it’s out again in print and in ebook formats. This makes this the final novel NineStar Press are relaunching. Next month will see the first editions of two newbies. But for this month at least, Adam is discovering that a midlife crisis can be fun!

Exotic locations

I’m lucky.

In a world where so many people don’t have the means to travel, I’m in the minority. My partner, Warren, and I love discovering new cities and will plan a world trip whenever we have the funds.

You see, from Australia, it’s cheaper to buy a ’round the world’ ticket, which usually takes in three continents, than it is to travel to a few destinations and back. We were reminded of this when I went to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. We played with the idea of visiting the festival, then travelling on to Mexico, then on to somewhere in South America before coming back home. This idea was more costly than circling the globe. Seriously!

In the Nate and Cameron series, I’ve shared our travels.

Although, not in an obvious way. Often when I write about these places I add a touch of the surreal to their descriptions. I do this to encourage my readers to see these destinations for themselves and work out what I am talking about. For example, here is a passage from Nate and the New Yorker

Prague. Image courtesy of LubosHouska through Pixabay

Horses clopped along, taking tourists on their way through this magical town. The Pickpocket Express, a name given to one of the local trams by travel guides, snaked its way past us. The storybook buildings had me searching for Puss in Boots, Cinderella, and various Prince Charmings.

This is Prague, a city Hitler loved, so he never bombed it. It’s where you can see how all of Europe might have looked today if history was different.

The Robot Restaurant in Tokyo

Video screens burst with bubblegum colors, demanding attention high in the skyscrapers above. Taxi drivers watched vigilantly for potential fares. Fashionable crowds filled the sidewalk, some darting about in order to meet friends on time. And a mishmash of large and small eateries flaunted plastic replicas of their menus in their front windows.

This city was not one that Warren had interest in, but he changed his mind after his visit. Tokyo is now one of his favourite destinations.

New York

Bagels spread out in another shop window, with a sign claiming they were the best in Manhattan. A busker rapped between the notes he played on his saxophone, telling us God would love us if we bought his CDs. And all this was happening as cars breezed along on the wrong side of the street.

One reviewer found my musings of New York interesting, as I was talking about their country. As she said, I was describing this famous city from a point of view she had never considered. All these places are featured in Nate and the New Yorker, with more to come when Nate’s Last Tango is released on June 26.

I was reminded how many don’t travel through a question I posed on Twitter.

I asked “Where would you like to visit?” Too many of my American followers either mentioned somewhere else in the USA, or answered “Italy”. When I asked the latter group why, they said it was because they have Italian heritage. I was puzzled.

Australians travel. Many of us have passports. It’s just what we do!

So, to any of my readers who haven’t ventured beyond their borders – please pick a destination outside of your comfort zone, and go. Once the travel bug bites, you won’t be looking for an antidote.

Loving Second Best

Imagine having the love of your life slip through your fingers.

Now imagine that someone has fallen for you but you’re not sure if you’re ready to love them back. That’s the dilemma that Nathan faces in my novella, Nate and the New Yorker, which is being re-released tomorrow through NineStar Press.

As many of us who write queer fiction know, we’re often encouraged to produce either erotica or romance to court readers, hoping to gain new fans who will go on to enjoy our more contemporary works. This was the case with this novella, but for me it was important to not stick with the traditional template for romance.

Sure, the blurb sounds like your average romance…

…as it takes one well known cliche of casting a millionaire. This, however, is a story about a spoilt kid (the dreamer) and a man hurting (the realist).

One thing I learnt quickly about playing with a genre is that the die-hard fans don’t forgive. Up until this point I generally received positive reviews for my magic realism novels, but for Nate and the New Yorker I’ve gained my best and worst review. This is a badge I wear with pride.

The original Wilde City cover. This publisher folded recently.

You have to ask, are you reviewing my book or talking about yourself?

I often found that those who weren’t happy would complain about the lack of sex, of which there is none, in this book. One vehemently opposed to a plot twist that she didn’t expect. How dare I stray from the genre! In her review she gives this twist away.

Those that loved it (and there are two camps, no in-betweeners) felt the pain of Nate trying to love second best. They liked his friends who were encouraging, and they saw the complexities of Cameron, a rich brat who didn’t really understand love.

Thanks to NineStar Press for relaunching this book. They are also releasing the sequel, Nate’s Last Tango, later this year. I went through the first round of edits yesterday.

Nate and his friends have also sneaked into a chapter of my current work in progress. Something tells me their not planning to leave my thoughts for a while.

Adventures in Self Publishing – Part 1

This is an interesting year of me.

It’s one of those years where things just seem to fall in place. My day job is moving forward with opportunities, and I got signed up to a new publisher after my former one folded.

I even got a contract for my non-queer novel which, although I had a gut feeling I would be offered, I also had a strange notion that something wouldn’t be quite right. My instinct was spot on! I was offered a contract which stipulated that I would receive no royalties until the publisher made back $US2,500 to cover the costs of editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, book proofs, printing and shipping, and legal fees. The term ‘vanity publisher’ came to mind.

The main character.

My partner congratulated me.

He was proud that I finally got a contract for this particular book. I didn’t reply to the publisher’s email. In fact, it took me a week to respond.

It’s hard when you want a contract so bad, yet you smell a rat. I went over my other contracts with other publishers and couldn’t go past the overcharging for services just to deny me my royalties. So before I actually said ‘thanks, but no thanks’, I let my social media friends know what was going on.

The futuristic city depicted in the manuscript.

People were alarmed on Facebook.

Everyone who responded was worried I was going to take the bait. Some of the comments included ‘I wouldn’t do it, Kevin. Find another way‘, ‘Do not sign. That is crazy. Better to indie pub than that craziness‘ and ‘Yeah don’t sign. Better to self publish.’

I know some very successful indie authors, so the notion of self publishing is less daunting then it was, say, ten years ago. Social media has made it easy to be seen in the right circles. And I know I could self-publish for half of what that dodgy publisher was claiming a book costs to release.

So I have a new project this year.

I’ve already arranged to have the manuscript edited by a person I have worked with before. I also know who I want as the cover designer even though I haven’t asked him yet. I’m catching up for lunch with an author friend who self publishes some of her work and always has the best advice. Another author friend who up until now has been traditionally published, is also considering her first indie release. We’ve joked about learning from each other as we go down that path. And I’ve made a list of actors to approach for the trailer. I hope they say yes.

More characters.

Do you have advice?

I’m going to keep blogging from time to time about this experience as its all quite new to me. But I also welcome your advice if you’ve self published. What should I be wary of? What was your most successful marketing method? How did you grow your social media?

I haven’t given myself a deadline except to say I want to have this work out before the end of the year. Apart from my writing, this will be a further push to my creative side.

The First Novel

Tomorrow I’m going to feel a sense of déjà vu as my first novel gets relaunched for the third time. My last publisher closed down, so I was very lucky that NineStar Press decided to re-contract my works.

An author’s first novel is special. It’s the one they sweated over. It’s the one that was redrafted more than any of the others. It’s the one where a budding author learns their craft.

Drama Queens with Love Scenes started as a handwritten manuscript titled Staging Life, and although I can’t remember how long ago I jotted down the first words into my journal, I can confidently say that it was over ten years ago. The original concept for the book had a cast of dead thespians acting in plays that taught them something about themselves, awakening them to lessons they missed while alive. As I wrote, the plot drastically changed.

In the first draft, friends, Allan and Warwick, visit Allan’s Uncle Bryant in Melbourne. The opening chapter was a slight ode to 19th century sci-fi as a large shiny rocket in the front garden takes the friends by surprise. The uncle and his poet girlfriend, Pamela, decide that Allan and Warwick should take the maiden voyage which they agree to, never believing for once this thing would fly. Something goes wrong and they find themselves in the Afterlife in the second chapter.

When I had this draft assessed, I was slapped on the knuckles for confusing the fantasy world with the real. I was told a rocket malfunction shouldn’t appear as a cause of death because it was fanciful and interfered with the world building of the Afterlife. I was also encouraged not to begin the book at the start, and to make Allan and Warwick’s death a mystery that unfolded in flashback . I took her advice and worked with her for several more drafts.

The original Charles River Press edition featuring Guy on the cover

When the novel was first contracted I was given an amazing editor. Her name was Mary Belk. Sadly she’s passed on since we worked together, but she is to this day the person who has influenced me the most in the way I write. She made me revisit my entire manuscript by combining chapters, dropping a character, and getting me to work harder in my ‘showing, not telling’. I worked for three months revamping the novel and had my doubts about her suggestions quite regularly, but as I sat reading the final draft from start to end, I realised she was right in everything she said. I wrote about Mary in another blog which you can read here.

The mysterious Guy, watching over Allan on the Wilde City edition of the cover

The next stop for my novel was Wilde City, a wonderful gay press who closed down recently. Through this publisher I got the much needed exposure to the right audience. More glbtqi blog sites picked it up for review. And as in the scant critiques that came out previously, my angel character, Guy, was still the most popular character. He has been described as many things including the emotional linchpin of the story. One reviewer claimed that they had even put in their own request to have Guy as their guardian angel. His popularity in this book has always surprised me. I even wrote a blog about it which lives here.

Since Drama Queens with Love Scenes I have written several other novels. The sequel, Drama Queens and Adult Themes, will be relaunched next month, as will my ‘not quite a romance’ novella, Nate and the New Yorker. But what’s equally as exciting as seeing these new editions find new readers, are the first releases of two more works. One of these is Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, the third in the Actors and Angels series. And yes, there’s a horned character who I’ve named Preston in the book.

But for the time being I’m looking forward to my first born being reincarnated – fitting for a novel about actors in the theatre district of the Afterlife.


A blog which goes deeper into the story of writing this particular novel can be found here.

Guest Blog – Christian Baines

I’d like to welcome back Christian Baines to my website. When asked to join the team of authors sharing their thoughts on writing, Christian took a unique approach, and I’m glad he did. Today he offers perspective as he calls for certain characters in gay fiction to be fleshed out more honestly.

Plus he’d like to offer one reader of today’s guest blog any one of his novels, but you can read about how to enter at the end of this post. For now, he’d like writers to consider women.


All About My Mother
(and my sister, and my aunt, and my best friend, and my daughter, and my high school beard…)

Thanks Kevin, for having me back on the blog! As I write this, we’re barely more than a month into 2017, and already two events this year that have inspired me. One took place when millions of women (and men, and others) who hit the streets across the world to stand up for women’s rights in what was the perfect response to a man who waves his misogyny and hatred in our faces like the world’s most graceless matador.

(Don’t worry, this post isn’t about politics!)

My other flash of early 2017 inspiration came through Pedro Almodovar’s newest movie, Julieta, based on the stories of Canadian writer Alice Munro. Cult figure Almodovar has been Spain’s most popular filmmaker since his breakthrough hit Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. He’s one of my favourites, and a huge inspiration when it comes to storytelling.

Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar

Weird as it may seem to link something as important as the Women’s March to a simple movie, both reminded me (as Almodovar’s films often do) of how much we, particularly as gay men, owe to women, and how we sometimes sell them short in our stories. For the uninitiated, Almodovar is an openly gay screenwriter and director who not only brings a gay sensibility to his films, but also tends to focus on female characters. You can see it right from his first movie, Pepi, Luci, Bom. In fact, a straight male is almost never the protagonist in an Almodovar film, and Julieta is no exception, being all about the relationship between a mother and her daughter. Sometimes, he plays them for comedy or eccentricity, tottering around the screen in Gaultier couture and high heels. But in his less comedic films, Almodovar’s women have become increasingly powerful and complex, nowhere more so than in Volver, a personal Almodovar favourite in which the male characters seem almost incidental.

Even though it’s tough to find a single healthy gay romance amid the broken embraces of these movies, there is one important question for gay fiction and romance writers to address.

women

How do you effectively bring women into your gay labyrinth of passion?

While bringing our classic pairing of two male MCs out in the live flesh, it can be easy to forget our female characters. They might slot awkwardly into overused tropes, or even come off as nasty obstacles to budding love. I’ve read women in gay romance played as bitchy homophobic relatives, or as bitter ex-wives or girlfriends…which is not entirely off limits. There’s definitely room for these characters and all of their dark habits. But as authors, we need to be careful not to reduce them to stereotypes. If they’re not properly developed, with real motivations for their nastiness, characters of any gender come off as cartoons. A male author writing such female characters looks misogynistic, and a female author writing them looks insecure, or at best, appears to be making some weird attempt to ‘protect’ her gay babies. While that formula might appeal to certain readers, it’s kind of condescending. It also doesn’t reflect the important roles women often play in our lives as gay men, and I’m pretty sure most readers can tell.

My experience is obviously going to be different to yours, but we each know who the important women are in our lives, and why. Maybe it was a mother or sister, who gave us the freedom to explore our interests and gender identity free of traditionally ‘male’ expectations. Maybe it was an aunt who inspired us with her eccentricity, or came down hard on us to build up the strength we now use to deal with prejudice. Maybe it was an understanding or inspiring teacher, coach, boss, colleague, or counsellor. Or maybe just that really good friend who played prom/formal beard, or took us to our first gay bar because we were too scared everyone was going to hit on the fresh meat, or who pushed us to go say hi to that cute guy who was so far ‘out of our league.’ Or maybe it was an acquiring editor who said ‘Yeah, this is good. Can you send me the full manuscript?’

Or, just the one who read something we wrote and told anyone that would talk to her about books to check it out.

Image courtesy of Voltamax, via Pixabay

It’s kind of impossible at this point to count the women who’ve played a role in my growth as a gay man and writer, or who’ve helped me in some way to feel comfortable in the skin I live in. But there are lots, and I’m pretty sure many other gay and bi men can say the same. There’s no strange law of desire, even in gay romance that says female characters should be any less developed in our stories. Sometimes they might even be a part of the romance (but oh, don’t get me started on the response I’ve had to doing that!). Sometimes they’re authority figures like Patricia Bakker, or lifelong friends like Isobel, who know the protagonist almost better than the protagonist knows himself. Sometimes they’re…whatever Mary is in Puppet Boy. All need just as much effort and development as your male protagonists.

One of my pet peeves in fiction (of any kind) is the strong woman. It’s a well-meaning cliché, but seriously? Men get to be smart, conflicted, snarky, insightful, reserved, assertive, etc etc etc… You will never hear a book promoted as having a ‘Strong male lead.’ Yet women are supposed to be satisfied or grateful if their representation is ‘strong’ and…that’s that? Really? We owe it to our female characters, readers, and the real women in our lives to go beyond this. ‘Strong’ should be the starting point of the character’s development, not the end. And if she’s not strong…does it really matter? Is there really no room in our fiction for characters who aren’t ‘strong’ (whatever that means)? In a character development pool of hundreds of potential traits, is ‘strength’ really the only way to make a character stand out in an interesting way?

Of course, good gay stories don’t need female characters in major roles order to be effective. Worse than an absence of women is a token character that’s been shoe-horned in there just to ‘represent.’ But it shouldn’t exclusively be an all-boys’ club either, because our lives aren’t. I’m so excited when I read complex, well realised female characters in a gay novel. Where it’s clear the author has thought about how important women can be to us, or is giving us an insight into a real woman who had a positive effect on their lives, or whatever. To me, it’s a sign gay novels have truly achieved mainstream acceptance, where gay love and sex is neither taboo nor fetishized, but is just another part of life, like the wonderful women we know.
Though I’ll probably never write a tell-all book all about my mother (insert ‘Christina’ gag here).


One thing I love about Christian Baines is that like me, he’s a film buff. So he has a question for readers who’d like to win any novel-length title from his backlist. Those who answer correctly will go into the random draw. The question is:

How many Pedro Almodovar movie titles are referenced in this blog post?

To be in the draw, please contact with your answer by using the email form at https://kevinklehr.com/contact/

 

beast puppet Baines

This giveaway closes on Friday April 7.

Thanks to Christian for being a guest blogger for the second time, and sharing his thoughts once again. His last post asked if there really is a happy ever after. You can read his thoughts on that topic here.

For more on this talented fellow Australian author, check out both his personal blog, Fiendish Whispers, and his author site.

Thanks again, Christian.

Writing Erotica

There’s something odd about the time this post is published.

Until tomorrow, the only thing I have available to readers is a short story in an anthology. Over the course of this year my books (both previously published works and three new tales) will come out through NineStar Press. The first is a new ebook which I believe will be my only attempt at writing erotica.

author_web_fttb_ninestar

From Top to Bottom is a short tale about three sexually adventurous men who, um, well, decide to become more sexually adventurous. I originally wrote this for my last publisher who, when first contacting them, was told that erotica and romance are what sell best. I wrote a romance that has been both praised and critiqued for not being true to the genre. As for this naughty novella, it was a challenge set by my partner and two friends.

It wasn’t easy.

My first contemporary novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes (relaunching on April 17), was originally contracted to a small general publishing house in Boston. When it was first edited I received a nasty note from the head of the company complaining about the lack of sex in the book. He went on to say ‘How can you call this an erotic novel?’

That book was magical realism, and anyone reading that would have worked that out. There was never any discussion about it being erotic.

 

So the editor encouraged me to add sex scenes.

I protested once. It was my first book contract so I didn’t protest beyond that. I added three sex scenes to that novel, which to this day I don’t believe are needed. But they’re light scenes so they don’t distract too much.

She gave me advice on writing these erotic scenes, which I didn’t follow, but thought I should add in this blog for others who might like to know. Apparently, you sit on a towel, naked, in front of your laptop and just type whatever comes into your head. Don’t censor it.

Three days later go back as the author and tidy it up.

So how did I write the scenes for From Top to Bottom?

I’ll keep that a secret but will admit I had to find various ways to let loose and write. What I was more interested in was the characters and their journey during the story. Each one comes to terms with something different during their sexual exploration, each finding their new path with humour.

Writers Tips – Nathan ‘Burgoine

This week’s Writer’s Tips comes from a Canadian writer who has guest blogged here before. Last time he spoke about the importance of speaking up. You can read that post here.

Nathan 'Burgoine

Nathan ‘Burgoine

I first met him at the Saints and Sinners Festival in New Orleans, but due to my jet lag I didn’t get to socialise as much as I would have liked with my fellow writers. It’s a mistake I won’t make next time even if my eyes are struggling to stay awake.

Here are Nathan’s tips.


I recently sent in a manuscript for a novel, and the last steps involved something I’ve started to think of as my “Foible List.”

If you’ve ever been edited, you’ll know the slightly embarrassing realisations that come with the process. My very first short story, Heart, came back with a note about adverbs (I’m sure we’ve all gotten that note) and though I didn’t know it at the time, my “Foible List” had just begun.

The next short story I sent off? Before I sent it, I took a moment to re-read the story specifically looking for those adverbs. They were there. Even though I’d known it, they’d snuck right past my fingertips and onto the page. I removed most of them, and sent off the story.

I think with that story, I got my first knuckle-wrap for using the word “asked” when the dialog make it perfectly clear there was a question being asked. I made a note—a physical one, not a mental one—and then remembered the adverb thing and wrote it down, too.

The Foible List: a bunch of things to check before I send in my final copy.

Since then, I’ve added a lot of things to my list. Some of them have become a bit of an in-joke with my editors and fellow author friends.

For example? My characters smile like idiots and nod like bobbleheads. I was in a group workshop in New Orleans when this was brought to my attention, and it brought a welcome levity to the whole group (there’s nothing quite like having one of your idols compare your characters to “bobbleheads” by the way) and we had a good laugh.

In my first drafts you’d swear they had springs in their necks and had been sucking on happy gas. The smile-and-nod hunt is one of the first things I do now when I’m done a first run through a piece.

If you create your own Foible List, you’re making your writing better and doing your editors a favor (always a good idea). And it’s fun when you realise you’ve searched a draft and finally not found one of your old bad habits there. My most recent novel’s draft had almost no nodding whatsoever. I was really, really pleased.

Then I found over a hundred smiles.

You win some, you lose some.

Your Foible List will be your own, but there are three things on my list that I think more of as advice that could apply to every writer.

Image by kuzeyli, courtesy of Pixabay

Follow the Rules.

This seems basic, but especially in my first love—short fiction—I’ve heard so many editors talk about the number of submissions they receive that don’t follow the guidelines from the call for submission. Twelve point Times New Roman font might not be your favorite font, but before you send it in, follow the rules. Anything you can do to make your editor’s life easier is something you should do, and here’s the thing: what’s the message you send when you don’t follow the basic rules set up in the submission call? You’re saying ‘I don’t follow rules,’ or ‘I didn’t bother to read the instructions.’ What would you expect someone who didn’t follow the guidelines to be like if you offered critique or editing notes?

Basically? Treat the submission guidelines line a job interview. You wouldn’t show up dressed inappropriately, or without your resume, or with a cup of coffee and your slippers, right?

Read it Out Loud.

I find so many mistakes, repetitions, and just plain awkward moments when I read pieces out loud. I may look like an idiot walking around my house reading my book to my dog (who often walks away while I’m reading it—he’s a tough audience) but sometimes I notice he pays attention when I’m reading something I feel confident in, and so, yeah. Coach the Husky sometimes offers his seal of approval.

This is even more important if you’re planning to do a reading, or if you’re thinking of releasing an audiobook. On the page is different from out loud, and the two can inform each other with great effect.

Image by Unsplash, courtesy of Pixelbay

Line Edit Backwards.

If you’re like me, when you get to the line edit stage, you end up realising, over and over again, that you’ve stopped line editing and started reading. Line editing is tedious, and when you’re hunting for those last few typos it’s easy to lose focus and just read your prose.

So, along with reading it out loud, I learned another tip from a fellow author: start at the end, and go backwards. Line by line, backwards. I’m much less likely to get lost in the flow of the story, and I find my brain doesn’t substitute in correct words where the wrong words are written.

I hope you find those helpful. And hey, by all means, share your own Foibles.


“He raised his hands to an imaginary god” is one of my Foibles, Nathan. And I use too many similes. My intuition told me I should go through my unpublished work at the end of last year, and sure enough, I saw many repeated in different novels.

I also read aloud, but I do it before I start my writing day. I go over the last chapter completed to make sure it all sounds perfect. Of course, by the time the next self-edit happens, nothing is always perfect.

Thanks Nathan for your advice. To get to know this author, visit his blog. I just did and learnt about Great Jones Street, which is what I like about his blog. There’s always an update on what he’s been up to and as a writer, what to keep an eye out for.

Next week another guest who’s guest blogged for me before, Christian Baines.

Writers Tips – Technology with Nic Starr

Last week we met Nigel Bartlett, an author who resides in Sydney that I met at Melbourne’s Queermance Festival. Nic Starr also lives here in Sydney and I met her at the same event.

Nic dips between indie releases and romances for Dreamspinner Press, but I’m not going to say too much more about her as she’s written a lovely introduction in her guest post.

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Over lunch one day, Kevin asked me about the tools I use when writing. It led to an interesting discussion about how technology can be used to complement a very creative process. Following that lunch, Kevin asked if I’d like to share that information on his blog. So here goes.

I come from a corporate background. I have always been extremely analytical and worked in the areas of process improvement and project management – data, spreadsheets, project plans and so on.  My escape from all of this was reading and getting lost in stories, and eventually I started reviewing and blogging. One day someone (another m/m author) asked me why I didn’t write my own books. To be honest, I was surprised – it wasn’t something I’d ever considered, after all I was a process driven person, not creative. But the seed was sown, and now I can’t imagine not writing. However, I have managed to incorporate all my structured tools into my writing process. So, let me share some of those processes and tools with you.

Each of these tools help me streamline my process, manage information, and increase my productivity.

Scrivener – I adore my Scrivener! Scrivener is a piece of software that enables me to store my research, manage character profiles, and draft my manuscript. It allows me to outline my story and capture ideas. It makes a breeze of composing a synopsis, and can be used for formatting the final output.

Scrivener in action

Scapple and Aeon – Scapple and Aeon both integrate with Scrivener. Scapple is mind-mapping software. I use it as the first main step in my story development process. I brain-storm the story outline and capture in Scapple. I import into Scrivener, where each idea becomes a ‘scene’ in Scrivener. Once in Scrivener, I can re-order and modify as needed. Aeon is used to manage the timeline of my story. It’s particularly useful when working on series where you have overlapping timelines.

Dragon Naturally Speaking – I’m relatively new to the world of speech-to-text but I’m giving it a try and having some good success. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking when I’m sitting at my computer and it captures my speech and converts it to text.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Voice Record Pro – This is a handy app on the iPhone (it might be available on other platforms but I haven’t checked.). I use this when I’m out and about, or not in front of the laptop. I record my scene or ideas, basically anything I want to capture. The app syncs to my Dropbox account so I can retrieve the audio files later. Once I’m back at my computer, I transcribe the recording using Dragon Naturally Speaking. Voila!

Pinterest – I’m quite a visual person. Pinterest is the tool I use to save photos and music etc, related to each of my stories. I do keep a lot of images in my Scrivener research folders too, but it’s nice to have the inspiration boards on public display in case any readers are keen to see them. The photos might be inspiration pics of the main characters, or rooms of the houses where they live, or recipes they’ve cooked, music they listen to, and so on.

Pinrest in Action

Evernote – Perfect for storing information. I use Evernote to manage lists of character names, future story ideas, and book title suggestions. I also clip articles to my Evernote that cover many topics related to the craft of writing and book marketing.

5KWPM – Another handy little app on my iPhone. I use it to do motivational writing sprints.

MS Excel – My key spreadsheets cover sales data, novel tracking (capturing all the milestones for each book), and my writing plan.

Dropbox – back up, back up, back up!

I haven’t gone into a whole lot of detail about each tool, but since I do get a lot of questions about my writing process, I’ve decided to do a more detailed series of blog posts on my blog in early 2017. If there’s something you’d particularly like to know more about, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to address it. I’ll also be inviting some authors, such as Kevin, to share their experiences.

Thank you so much for having me visit, Kevin. I’m looking forward to hearing how Scrivener is working out for you.

Nic xx


To find out more about Nic Starr and her books, check out her website.Thanks Nic. And yes, I love Scrivener, and like you, I record notes and quotes on my phone. You have me curious about Scrapple and Evernote, though. Something I’ll have to check out.

Next week will be our last Writer’s Tip for this series and comes from a Canadian writer who has been a guest blogger before on my site – Nathan ‘Burgoine.