Editing is very important

After reading some eBooks, I have come to a conclusion.  Many independent authors don’t edit very well.  My guess is that they edit their own books, missing the mistakes that they make.

The simplest mistakes are often confusing similar words, such as their, there, and they’re; elude and allude; affect and effect.  I could go on.  Having someone who’s decent with spelling and grammar read it would get many of the mistakes.

But sometimes it’s the actual formatting and style. I have read some books in which the authors seem to have no idea how to format dialogue well.  One book has improper punctuation and has dialogue of several people in the same paragraph.  For example:

“I’m tired of grammar mistakes.” he said.

should be

“I’m tired of grammar mistakes,” he said.

Did you notice the difference?  The period inside the quote should be a comma if the sentence continues outside the quotation marks.  But it continues on after that with another line of dialogue from another character.  This is how it may look:

“I’m not doing dialogue correctly.” said John. “I know.” said Bob. “This is very confusing to read.” he replied. “Sometimes I have no idea if the same person is just continuing to talk or another person is talking.” said Jane.

Please put line breaks at the end of each line of dialogue.  It keeps it neat and tidy.  You can understand who is speaking, when they finish, and when the next person starts.  It’s so much easier to read!

These problems could even be resolved by using a critique group.  There are people in those groups who are quite strict.  I like Critique Circle, which is an online critiquing group, so you can get a variety of opinions on various aspects, such as style, grammar, formatting, and so on.  But it’s really up to you if you want to use a critiquing group.  Some don’t.  I do.  However, they cannot replace a proper editor.  Those cost money, and I understand that indie authors may not have the money for it.  I know how that feels. But just get someone you know that can be strict to read over your book and do some serious editing.  At least until you can afford an actual editor.  It may not be perfect, but it can definitely improve your readers’ experience.

Comments or questions are welcome and encouraged.

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Book Review – Voidhawk

Voidhawk by Jason Halstead is the first novel I read with my Kindle app on my iPhone.  I’m not used to reading eBooks, but I found that there were some formatting problems.  That may be the fault of the app or it may not have been edited or formatted properly.  However, this will not affect my review.

This was both a very interesting book and a very unusual book.  It was interesting because of the setting.  It’s quite unique.  Halstead created a universe in which traditional fantasy races traveled in wooden boats in the Void.  The Void is their word for space.  So, this was fantasy in space!  It is in no way science fiction.  The only thing that separates it from the usual earthbound fantasy is the fact that it is in space.  I really enjoyed how he set it up with planets being the unusual locations for people to go, while most were in the Void in vast artificial settlements and on asteroids.  These places had their own atmospheres.  In fact, every ship had its own atmosphere and gravity plane.

What I found unusual is how its very episodic.  It doesn’t seem to have a single storyline, unless you count the central romance or the characters’ increasing familiarity with each other.  There are many smaller adventures, mostly in life or death situations.  But that doesn’t mean it’s a serious book.  I found it filled with humour.  Some of it was a bit childish and unnatural.  I couldn’t put my finger on it until later in the book when I realised that the humour was quite similar to that of Japanese animation.  Male characters tend to be very embarrassed by female nudity.  While they seem to be adults, they behave like awkward teenagers who have never seen a nude woman.  And yes, there is plenty of nudity and adult humour in this book. It’s not for kids.

The characters were an interesting bunch.  Dexter Silvercloud is the Captain. He’s daring, impulsive, occasionally responsible, and seems to have the most internal conflict.  Kragor is the dwarf first mate who never seems to be serious. A lot of humour comes from him.  He’s a decent character that I liked.  Jenna is the elf. At first, headstrong and stubborn, but she shows the greatest development.  Bekka is the half-elven pilot, and I didn’t find her character to be very deep.  Other characters come in to join the crew, such as Jodyne, Rosh, Bailynn, Keshira, Xander, Willa, and Logan.  My main difficulty with the characters is how they changed emotions suddenly and irrationally.  They didn’t seem very natural.  I don’t know if Halstead noticed this, but every character “chuckled” all the time. That word was overused.

I believe this is his debut book, so his style probably hadn’t been firmly established yet.  But despite the problems I saw, it was a fun read.  It has good entertainment value, but don’t expect to find a deep story.  I’m looking forward to reading the second book in this series, though.

I will give this 3 stars.  It’s not amazing, but it is a decent first book. Recommended to those who enjoy some humour mixed in with their fantasy. Also recommended to those who like unique settings.

NaNoWriMo? NoNaNoWriMo.

Last year, I attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which is held every year during November.  30 days to write a 50,000 word novel.  I got to somewhere around 1,800 words when I realised how little time I had last November.  I didn’t feel adequately prepared, and I didn’t have enough time to devote to it.  With a pregnant wife, inability to spend more than 30 minutes at a time writing, and general nighttime tiredness, I couldn’t get it done. I gave up.  I wanted to do it at my own pace.

This year, I’m not even trying NaNoWriMo.  I have something in the works, but it’s not a novel.  I’d prefer to spend my time with that instead of a mad dash to finish a novel.  Maybe next year!

So, who’s participating this year?

Reviewing more than just books and TV?

While books will be the main thing I’m reviewing, as well as a limited number of science fiction TV series and movies, I’m going to start reviewing something completely unrelated.  I’m going to start reviewing the food I eat at restaurants.  That’s right, I’m going to be one of those annoying people who takes a picture of their food and posts it online.  But I’m not just posting the pictures, I’m also saying what I felt about it.  No one is immune!  Even McDonald’s will get reviewed!

Looking forward to it?

Revisiting the short story debate

Last night, I posted about whether I should write a novel or have three separate short stories.  After 24 hours of sleep, work, and thought, I may have come to a decision.

The first short story, not one of the three, will be published first.  Later, the other three will be published in one book.  It will not be a standard novel, though.  They will be three separate stories, though they are linked.  Each subsequent story is a result of the previous story.  They are self-contained stories, so it’ll be like a single volume trilogy of short stories.

This is how the plan stands for now.  I can’t guarantee that it won’t change.  I may start writing it and feel that it should be a novel.  It all depends on how the writing goes.

Important question to myself: Short stories or novel?

I have a bit of a problem. Maybe it’s not a big problem, but it’s got me thinking.  As you may know, I’ve got a short story and novels planned for a science fiction world I’ve created.  I also have ideas for stories within the same universe.  This is where my problem is.  I have three stories in mind, yet they are all connected.  At this point in time, I don’t have an overall plot in mind, but three separate plots.  These stories aren’t long enough to constitute entire novels, yet they may when put together.

In many novels I’ve read, there’s an overall story, but also some subplots, each with its own beginning, middle, and ending.  But they flow together very well.  My three story ideas have no flow.  They’re related, but the characters have no connection with each other.  In essence, they are completely separate stories, though they are connected.  One story leads to the next one.  The second story is a result of the first, while the third is a result of the second.  I may get novellas out of one or two of them, but the third one may be a bit short.  I may just bundle them together as a compilation of short stories with an overall theme.  Or I can release them one at a time, making them available at a low price.  I guess I have a lot of thinking to do.

These stories are very important in establishing some fundamental aspects of this world.  They provide a basis for why things are the way they are.  They also give the world a whole group of characters that’ll make things more interesting.

I think short stories are important, especially for someone who is starting out with self-publishing.  It gives readers something quick and easy to read, and hopefully wanting more.

What do you think?  Do you like reading short stories?

Book Review – Gardens of the Moon

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson is the first book of the epic fantasy The Malazan Book of the Fallen. It’s a lengthy series, so it’s quite an undertaking to read all of it.  And I’ve only just started.

This book was a difficult one to rate.  It’s Steven Erikson’s debut novel, and I could see some flaws early on.  However, my attitude toward the book changed dramatically as I continued to read it.

Gardens of the Moon takes place mostly on the continent of Genabackis amidst a campaign of expansion and domination by the Malazan Empire.  The world was developed for a GURPS campaign by Erikson and his friend Ian Cameron Esslemont, and Malazan Book of the Fallen is a novelization of that world.  The world is completely original.  Unlike other fantasy novels, the cultures and races are unique to this series.  There are no elves, dwarves, ogres, and so on.  Instead, you get the Tiste Andii, T’lan Imass, Jaghut, and more.  Humans are the main race, however.  Wizards and gods take a major role, as well, but they’re not exactly what we would normally expect. Overall, the world is incredibly imaginative.

The ensemble cast of characters is vast.  Ganoes Paran is kind of the hero, though he doesn’t seem to be very heroic.  He’s a soldier thrown into a situation he wishes he wasn’t in.  Tattersail is a powerful mage with many insecurities.  Lorn, the Empress’ Adjunct is also an incredibly flawed character.  Sergeant Whiskeyjack, Kalam, Quick Ben, Crokus, Rallick, Kruppe, and more make some very colourful characters who aren’t always what they seem to be.  That’s one thing that made this book so interesting to read, the reader doesn’t know what to expect from the characters.  They are very well developed through the book, and we never quite know who are really the good guys and who are the bad guys.  With few exceptions, the line between good and bad is blurred very much.  While the characters are strong, it was very confusing for the first quarter of the book.  There were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight.

The story has two sides to it.  In the beginning, I found it difficult to follow.  I had no idea what was going on.  But as the plot moved along, things became clearer, and I could understand what was happening.  Basically, it’s a large empire trying to conquer the biggest city on the continent of Genabackis.  But it’s not that simple.  There are many individuals who change their positions, the “good” seem to ally themselves with the “bad,” and so on.  It was incredibly unpredictable.  That should be expected, since this was based on a GURPS role playing campaign.  That’s what made much of this book so amazing to read.  You never knew what was going to happen.  Main characters die, sometimes unexpectedly.  We never know more than the characters know.  It’s like we’re going along with the ride, joining in the action.  It makes it much more exciting.

Like I said before, this was a difficult book to read.  For the first quarter of the book, I wasn’t impressed.  It was maybe going to get three or three and a half stars at that point.  But the rest of the book was a solid four and a half to five stars.  So, what do I rate it?

Four and a half stars.  Recommended to any fantasy fan, especially those who want something new and refreshing.

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.