"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte

Friday, March 21, 2014

Help Laurie Breathe



Our friend Laurie Laliberte was recently rushed to the hospital. Her respiration system had failed and Laurie almost didn't make it. She is still not able to communicate, and we don't know when she'll be back.
Laurie is a freelance editor for independent authors. Her life's work is to help others, and she gives of herself with reckless abandon. Even though she edits some of the biggest names in the industry, she loves working with newcomers and makes it her responsibility to guide them. In addition to that, she edits charity anthologies for free, and hosts a hugely-popular blog about crocheting where people all over the world get to use her wonderful patterns.  
Now, it is our time to help her. Laurie is facing significant hospital bills and the loss of her residence. We've set up a crowdfundeddonation site called Help Laurie Breathe, where people can give $5 and more via PayPal. If everyone who reads Laurie's blog or has been touched by her work gives just $5, she'll be able to receive the treatment she needs.
There are other levels beyond $5, and one of them contains a special incentive. Thank you for visiting this site, and thank you for supporting our friend Laurie Laliberte. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again!

National Poetry Month is almost here. In honor of April, I am holding my annual Poetry Slam here at the blog. So dust off your old college notebooks and send me your best, your worst, or somewhere in between.

For all the details about participation, go here: 2014 Poetry Slam and don't forget to follow the rules.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Survey

Hey y'all! This week's post comes from my need to settle a debate between one of my favorite authors and myself. It is 100% self-serving, and I am fully aware of that fact, so please don't leave any negative comments to chastise me. ;)

I would like to know what my readers think about my writing vs. my editing. I mean, if you didn't like my editing, you wouldn't purchase the books my clients produce, so I have some idea of what you all are looking for when it comes to putting out a piece of fiction. But this time, I'm looking for a bit of feedback regarding bylines.
Have you read Tony's FFH series yet?
This collaboration is set in the same Universe.

Some of the books I've helped produce in the past couple of years required little more than a quick proofread and feedback session; others have required a complete rewrite. In fact, I sent back one novel recently that I did completely rewrite because the author just did not seem to be "getting it."

Having said all that, I'm going to let you in on the big secret. I've teased you a bit with my latest writing project. (No, I do NOT mean my latest crochet book.) I am collaborating with Tony Healey on what will likely become a 90K-word novel, sci-fi, of course.

In the past, my work with Tony (We fondly refer to them as Healiberte productions.) has received only editorial credit regardless of my level of involvement. Some pieces were super-quick and got barely a once-over because he was able to bang them together with ease; a few required much more effort on my part because I know his style, his potential, and his standards.

This latest is a true collaboration right out of the gate. It's 50/50, give or take. Now, I'm not a person who requires, or even wants, the spotlight, but I was working and thinking this morning, and I wondered which would sell better: a book bearing Tony's name as writer and mine as editor, or a book that showed both of us as co-writers.

So please, take a moment to chime in and give me your feedback below or in an email to kindleallstars at gmail dot com and let me know what you think. Are you more or less likely to purchase a book that has BOTH our names on the byline?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Call Me a Tease if You Must . . .

. . . just so long as you call me. ;)

Hey all! I've been sick, and working, and working, and sick. Right now, my priorities include projects with Tony Healey, Bernard Schaffer, Reeni Austin, and a newbie by the name of Tony DePaul. However, we all know I try to squeeze in some crochet time whenever I can because it maintains my sanity.

Of course, crochet for me is more than just pleasure; it's work. Rarely do I crochet only for the love of the craft. Chances are, if you see a hook in my hand, I'm working on a gift for a friend, an item for a craft show, or a sample for a new pattern.

Over last weekend, it was a sample called "Movie Night." I actually sketched out the design two or three years ago and then it sat, waiting for me to get back to it. The problem with the creative process, whether designing crafts, writing music, or writing prose or poetry, is that when it rains, it pours.

Once I get started, I can't stop. I sketched out about fifteen designs all at once and this one got lost in the shuffle, but it's always been in the back of my mind to finish it. I even bought the yarn for the sample way back when.

You see, the reason I named it "Movie Night" is that it was inspired by the red-and-white striped boxes that the old theatres used to serve popcorn. The basic design will be on a plane of white with red stripes in the form of post stitches and embellished with yellow popcorn stitches.

I've only reached the point where the pattern for the towel is worked out and written, but I'm pretty excited about it.

Meanwhile, the latest crochet book is well on its way to being finished. All of the samples are done except for one which needs pictures to be taken step-by-step for part of the pattern. And the clearer, more formal writing of the instructions and formatting need to be laid out.

So what else could I possibly have going on? Well, there's a serial I'm co-writing with Tony Healey that I hope we'll be able to reveal officially next month, and a couple of story ideas I'm developing with/for Reeni Austin that I hope we'll be able to publish within the next couple of months. That one's been slower going than I expected. Friends, a word of advice: writing is fairly easy, but writing romance is HARD!

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted, so stay tuned.

Namaste.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Single Shoulder Strap Pattern/Tutorial

Just in case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago, I posted the pattern for my Blog Collection Round Hobo Bag, possibly my favorite bag so far. Although that Windmill bag... Maybe I should just refrain from playing favorites.

Anyhow, because the straps of the bags in this collection are meant to be interchangeable, I chose not to post it all in one go. That, and I had yet to write up a coherent pattern.

Please be aware that the instructions for the strap are specific to the Round Hobo Bag, but a quick note about changing it up for other bags follows the pattern.

**********


Single Shoulder Strap

chain 120, do not turn, skip next 54 sts

Design Note:  For now, ignore those 54 skipped stitches, but you may want to mark the first and last skipped stitch so they're easier to find later.

Round 1:  being careful not to twist chain, connect to next st w/sc, sc in next 53 sts, sc in each ch across (174 sts)

Round 2:  sc in each of next 53 sts, skip next st, sc in each of next 119 sts, skip last st (172 sts)

Round 3:  skip 1st st, sc in next 51 sts, skip next 2 sts, sc in each of next 117 sts, skip last st (168 sts)

Round 4:  skip 1st st, sc in next 49 sts, skip next 2 sts, sc in next 115 sts, skip last st (164 sts)

Round 5:  skip 1st st, sk in next 47 sts, skip next 2 sts, sc in next 114 sts, join w/sl st in 1st st (161 sts)

finish off, weave in ends
(opposite side) Round 1:  connect w/sc at 1st skipped st, sc in next 53 sts, sc in each unused loop of ch (174 sts)
Rounds 2-5:  repeat Rounds 2-5 above

finish off, weave in all ends
**********
Modifying this strap to fit any bag is fairly simple. Instead of skipping 54 stitches, use the stitch count of the last row/round of your bag. Divide your total stitch count by two. This is the number of stitches you will skip.
In the coming months, as I post other bags from this series, I will also post the how-to's for their respective straps including a slightly narrower shoulder strap and a much shorter rolled handle. In the meantime, have fun playing with this one.
Happy Crocheting!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Serializing

One of my favorite authors, and definitely my favorite client (but don't tell him I said that), Tony Healey, sent this to me a while back. Since he and I are possibly collaborating on a serialized novel this year, I thought it appropriate that I should finally share it with you, my fearless readers.

Also, I love to tease you all and figure I'd hold off on the shoulder strap tutorial for my latest handbag pattern until next week. That gives you plenty of time to finish the body of the bag before we get started with the strap.

So, here's Tony sharing some of what he's learned about publishing throughout 2013:
********************

The Far From Home series was about twelve months work, writing one part at a time. I'd read about Hugh Howey doing it with his Wool series, and how it'd caught people's imagination. Being new to this writing lark, I really didn't think I'd be able to write a 50,000 word novel to begin with. Now I could, but not back then. So I chose to write the parts between 10 and 20,000 words each. A reasonable amount of work to do in a month – though now my output is about 40,000 a month.

It was slow going. Tedious. I found I got half way through, reached number six, and didn't want to carry on. Why had I said it would be twelve installments?

WHY???

But I soldiered on, found my mojo again and finished it up. And you know what? It was a resounding success. Each part was a best-selling title. Aided by the fact that Part 1: Legend was made permanently free by Amazon, the series sold in droves.

Some people took umbrage to the fact they had to buy all twelve installments individually, but on the whole readers were receptive and supportive of what I was trying to do.

So should you try it?

I'd advise caution.

Firstly, yes, serializing your work is a great idea. What better way to build an audience (and necessary experience publishing on Amazon) than to do so over a twelve month period? That slow build, that gradual creation of a large piece of work seems like an uphill struggle at the time. But once you're there, you really discover you've achieved something. Not only have you written a long work of fiction, you've gained readers along the way. People emailed me, wrote messages on my site and twitter on a daily basis to tell me they liked Far From Home.

They still do.

But this leads to me second point. It's hard work. It takes discipline. You can't let them down. Once they start buying the first couple, readers expect to see it finished. And you owe them that. You're the storyteller. You can't take their hard earned cash with one hand and wave goodbye with the other.

See it through. As I said above, there was a point where I got disheartened. I didn't want to carry on. But I did. It was the only thing I could do (and the best thing I could do).

There's the financial consideration, too. You'll be making money as you're writing it. Who else gets to write a long novel and get paid by the chapter these days? Nobody. The whole year I was writing Far From Home, I made a steady income (that increased as each part was released).

Do I think you should write a novel first, then serialize it? No. Why would you want to? The whole idea is to write it as you go, bit by bit. I don't think it's fair on a reader to write the work first, then split it into chunks purely for financial benefit. Some reviewers accused me of just that. They didn't realize I was actually writing it as I went. I had a rough outline for each part and a list of characters. That's it.

However, I would recommend writing them a little in advance. Make sure you are a month ahead of where you need to be so that if you fall ill, or something else comes up, you don't let your readership down.

Have a site, let people know what's coming. Get readers involved in reading the parts before they come out. I wrote many of my readers into the series as characters. Designed catchy, branded covers that tell people in once glance what they are. As my pal Bernard says in his manifesto for independent authors, "Provide excellent value for fair cost."

What he means by that is give people a good deal. I published twelve installments of Far From Home at $0.99c each. When I finished the first three, I packaged them together and offered it for $1.99. I did the same with parts four, five and six. It was my way of providing a cheaper alternative as they read the series. When I had completed all twelve, I unpublished the first two volumes as they were no longer needed. I then put all twelve together as Far From Home: The Complete Series and priced it at $2.99. So to me, that's a saving to the reader of $9.

It would've cost them $12 to buy the whole thing. Now they can get it for a scratch under $3. About the same as a cup of coffee.

Fair cost.

So in short, here is my advice if you'd like to try your hand at writing and publishing a work of serial fiction.

1. Write as you go, and make each part no less than 10,000 words to provide value for money. $0.99 for 10,000 words works out at about a penny a page. I think that's fair.

2. Realize this isn't a ride you can stop once you get on. You're on for the duration, so buckle up. Don't short change people. Be resilient. Stay the course. If you've told people it's going to be in six parts, then you'd better deliver six parts that rock their socks off.

3. Experiment. I tried new things throughout Far From Home. Some of it worked, some of it didn't. I'm a better writer now than when I started with part 1; that's for sure. You learn the trade as you go. Stir things up, and always leave the reader hanging. I tried to leave things on a cliffhanger when I could, though I wasn't always able to. Carefully craft your ending so that people want to find out what's coming next.

4. Use bold, simplistic covers that communicate what the serial is. Have a brand. Have a look you've decided on, and stick with it. If the covers don't look like members of the same family, readers will find it hard picking them out of the crowd. Presentation is 99.9% of the sale. A book may not be judged by its cover, but I believe it is sold by it. Without a good cover, you're dead in the water.

5. Do not write the serial first, you're cheating the reader. And you're cheating yourself in the long run. It's a unique experience. Embrace it. Let it do it's thing.

6. Offer each part at the cheapest price possible, then when it's all complete give readers a huge discount. Remember that having an audience of people actually reading your work is more important (always) than making the maximum profit. Let everyone know you're not there to rip people off. You're there to write, and have what you've written be read and enjoyed. Don't be greedy and deny yourself the joy of having people appreciate your work and the effort it took to create it.

These are the pros and cons of serializing. In short, I believe everyone who writes should have a go. But always finish what you started. And know that it's a headache once you're doing it – though the end result is worth it. Follow my points and you won't go wrong. Be consistent, be professional, be a writer who values his or her readership, and you'll be fine.

If you're the opposite of those things, don't even attempt a serial. You're not dead in the water, you've not even left the dock yet.
********************
Tony's latest project, whose official launch is today, is Edge of Oblivion, an anthology to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.


Listen to podcast interviews conducted by contributor and author, David Hulegaard, here: http://bit.ly/1dmltXh

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Free Crochet Pattern and a Sneak Peek at the New Crochet Book

Hey y'all! I decided I needed a short (heh) vacation, but I'm back. More important, I'm back with post number 200 here on the blog.

In honor of this milestone, I've brought you a gift: a free pattern you're going to love. As promised, I'm continuing to drop patterns from my new, almost finished, crochet book. This one just may be my favorite of the bunch simply because I'm addicted to round hobo bags.

This week, you get just the basics, the body of the bag, but the recommended amount of yarn is for the whole thing. The shoulder strap pattern/tutorial is something I will share with you within the next couple of weeks.

As usual, I worked the sample in Lily Sugar 'n Cream yarn, but it will work with any worsted weight yarn. The colors here are Hot Pink and Hot Orange. Grab your hook and get to work!

The Blog Collection Hobo Bag

Finished Size:

body – 9" diameter x 11" high
strap – 32" long x 2 ½" wide

Supplies Needed:

3 balls of yarn for body
2 balls of yarn for contrast
size H-8 (5mm) crochet hook
stitch markers or pieces of scrap yarn
yarn needle or smaller crochet hook for weaving in ends

Instructions:

Round 1: using magic ring method, 12 sc in ring, pull ring tight to close gap (12 sc)

Round 2: 2sc in each st around (24 sc)

Round 3: sc in each st around (24 sc)

Round 4: [2sc in next st, sc in next st] around (36 sc)

Round 5: sc in each st around (36 sc)

Round 6: [2sc in next st, sc in next 2 sts] around (48 sc)

Round 7: sc in each st around (48 sc)

Round 8: [2sc in next st, sc in next 3 sts] around (60 sc)

Round 9: sc in each st around (60 sc)

Round 10: [2sc in next st, sc in next 4 sts] around (72 sc)

Round 11: sc in each sc around (72 sc)

Round 12: [2sc in next st, sc in next 5 sts] around (84 sc)

Round 13: sc in each st around (84 sc)

Round 14: [2sc in next st, sc in next 5 sts] around (96 sc)

Round 15: sc in each st around (96 sc)

Round 16: [2sc in next st, sc in next 5 sts] around (108 sc)

Round 17: sc in each st around (108 sc)

Round 18: in BLO sc around (108 sc)

Round 19: sc in each st around (108 sc)

Rounds 20-27: repeat Round 19

change colors*

Round 28: sc in each st around (108 sc)

Round 29: repeat Round 28

Round 30: in BLO sc around (108 sc)

Round 31: repeat Round 30

Round 32: in BLO [sc in next st, dc in next st] around (108 sts)

Round 33: in BLO [dc in next st, sc in next st] around (108 sts)

Round 34: repeat Round 32

Round 35: repeat Round 33

Round 36: repeat Round 32

Round 37: in BLO sc around (108 sc)

Round 38-39: repeat Round 37

Round 40: sc in each st around (108 sc)

change colors*

Rounds 41-55: sc in each st around (108 sc)

do not finish off*

Before you move on to the shoulder strap, make sure this length works for you. If you do follow my instructions for the strap, you'll be adding another five rows (about 1 1/4") to the top of the bag, so keep that in mind as well.

Happy Crocheting!