Murderbots and Other Stuff You Should Read

Murderbots and Other Stuff You Should Read

Hey! This one goes out to indie authors. You’ve heard that advice to read a lot if you’re looking to up your game as an author. It’s a great way to learn your craft as you entertain your brain. (Not to mention support your brethren.) And, I don’t know about you, but I gain inspiration when I enjoy a well-written story. It’s some great advice. I read about 2-3 books a week. Not all of them are fiction. There’s some non-fiction writing craft stuff in there too. Here’s a shout out to some books that I’ve recently “discovered” and don’t...

Short Stories: Chihuahuas vs. Dire Wolves

Here’s a theory—Chihuahuas have the souls of larger dogs (most likely dire wolves) wedged into those tiny little bodies. It would explain why these tiny pups think they’re big enough to take on a cat twice their size or why they always seem to shake. (The shaking is actually their molecules vibrating with the effort to keep all that “big dog soul” energy contained in such a small package.) Like I said, a theory. Consider short stories. You’re trying to package an entire universe, complete with exposition and world-building into this teeny weeny manuscript that shouldn’t be more than 30,000...

Spin City, Baby

I don’t remember doing this. (That’s one of the charming side effects of life with ADD.) But I guess I submitted a copy of  Allies and Enemies: Fallen to the Midwest Book Review.

How do I know this? Yesterday, I got an email from their editor telling me my book is included in their February issue of MBR Bookwatch.

Yay! Right? Err…. maybe?

While I am grateful for the coverage (MBR has a pretty solid reputation), it’s not the most glowing missive. It does produce some pretty nice “sound bites”. In our present world of spin doctoring and fake news, it’s a boon of sorts. However, I do have to recognize that it’s the opinion of one person. Like a Jackson Pollock or one of those weird 3D prints from the 90s, not everyone is going to see the same thing. Consider

Consider The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This book is beautifully written and seamless. This is my favorite book. I look to it for inspiration in writing style. But the subject matter is easy to consider depressing. I mean, it is the story of an oppressed woman, Ofglen. A lot of terrible things have happened to her and continue to happen to her. That’s the 20,000-foot view. Look lower, under that cloud layer, and you see the so much more than that. You see a spirit that refuses to be shaped by her new reality, a warning, a cautionary tale, a disconnected love story. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not comparing myself to Atwood. She’s got the 120 pack of crayons with the built-in sharpener on the box. I have the cheapo pack of 3 that they give you with the kid’s menu at Denny’s. My point is everyone has different viewpoints.

“…a solid SF tale. It has a nice layered storyline with a relatively fast paced plot… Fallen has everything you would want in a SF suspense space opera.” [Midwest Review]

So do I imagine hearing the above “sound bite” in some gritty movie trailer voice? You bet. 🙂 Will I take the full review’s comments to heart? Not sure. But it did give me pause to reflect on the nature of professional reviews and the roles they play in the world of self-publishing. They’re meant to help potential readers make a decision about what book they want to read next.

In the same vein, does the phrase “New York Times Bestseller” compel someone on Amazon to pick that book over another? Or does it simply place that book in a higher spot of prominence so that the consumer is less likely to dig deeper beyond the first few results? Personally, before I got wrapped up in this indy publishing journey, I never really noticed the “NY Times” bannered books. But then… that’s just me.

 

Plotting like a “Real” Writer: The Grand Experiment

Plotting like a “Real” Writer: The Grand Experiment

I have a confession to make. I, Amy J. Murphy, was born a pantser. You know… an author that writes from the “seat of their pants.” It goes a long way in explaining why it took me about 10 years to finish my first book, what ended up (after much hair-pulling and gnashing of teeth) to become Allies and Enemies: Fallen. Basically, I’d read what I wrote previously, tweak it, re-read it, tweak it some more and then set off on some tangent that made very little sense in the scheme of an overall story. If you plotted my course,...
Self-Editing or How to Keep Your Brain From Eating Itself

Self-Editing or How to Keep Your Brain From Eating Itself

I got my edits back from my very patient and all too kind editor. And now is when the blood-letting starts. For me receiving my edits is a lot like report cards week at school—exciting and full of dread. You know you did your best, but you worry about any nasty surprises that may be in there. (Fun Fact: I got a D in typing my Freshman year. TYPING!!!! Can you believe it?!) As writers, we are our own worst critics. We like to imagine the worst and allow that to feast on our brains. Any “nasty surprises” I dread...

Seeing stars: Amazon Reviews

I admit it. I was the kid in class that reminded teacher that he or she had forgotten we were supposed to have a quiz that day. This made me wildly unpopular. It was just part of who I was/am. Besides, my main motivation was to get those wonderful little “A”s sketched across the top of my page of loose leaf. If I were to look at them now, I’d recognize them as the scrawl of an exhausted teacher and ultimately useless. But at the time, those precious “A”s looked like tiny Rembrandts, my personal masterpiece and evidence that someone...