Being a Better Writer: Repetitive Ticks That “Don’t Exist”

Welcome back readers! I hope you’re doing better this Monday than I am. As I am still sick. On the mend, thankfully, and I’ll be picking up some Nyquil today to at last give this cough the boot, but it’s been tenacious in hanging on.

Anyway, before I get to today’s topic, I do have one news topic to bring up: Thanksgiving and the Black Friday Sale.

Midnight on Thursday, and running through the next week, most of my lexicon of books will be getting in on the Black Friday sale goodness! If you’ve been holding out on a particular title, this will be the time to grab it! Or if you’re looking for a good Christmas gift for the reader in your family … this is it!

There’s only one catch. Due to Amazon’s bizarre handling of international digital markets, the sale isn’t consistent across all countries. Sorry. But I’ve done my best to put as many of my books as I can on a sale if possible.

And a steep on, too. We’re talking 50% off or more. Even for new books like Shadow of an Empire or classics like Colony. I’ll post more about it as the day approached, but for now? Set your alarms and get ready. If you know folks hunting for a deal or looking for Christmas gifts, let them know!

Okay, with that bit of news out of the way, let’s talk about repetitive ticks that don’t exist. With a title topic like that, I’d expect that a bunch of you are expecting me to talk about “Saidisms” and other repetitive words, but … nope! I’ve already talked about that. You can find that post here.

So then, what’s this post about? Well, it’s a curious one, but as the title says, I’m talking about repetitive ticks that don’t exist.

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Being a Better Writer: When Do You Publish?

We’re going to do a shorter one today, folks, so that I can get back to editing (post-edit: It was not that short). Or rather, I’m going to keep it short. So that I can get back to, well, my bit in the topic at hand. Because this is the process I’ve been going through for a few weeks now.

Okay, so let’s just say it outright: How do you know when to publish something? What’s the point where you sit back and say “this is ready?” How do you know when you’ve reached that point?

Well … I’ll be honest, this is one of those answers that’s probably a little different for everyone, where each author is going to have their own “stance” on what being ready to publish actually means, or what “being published actually entails.” For example, for some authors, being “ready to publish” may mean “This story is ready to send to my editors and start the process.” while for others, like myself, it can mean “This story is ready to sell to the public.”

In addition to that, the “when” has a bit of a broad meaning in addition to what can be meant by “publish,” based on the context of that publish. The first one, the “send to the editors” one, is going to have a whole different set of criteria from the second, because, well, after all, what you send to your editors is going to be far different from what you send to the buying public. So in that context “knowing” that a story is ready is going to be different.

So let’s break these down and talk about them separately. Starting with the earlier one: How do you know your story is ready for editors?

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Being a Better Writer: Less is More? The Art of Cutting in Editing

Welcome, readers, to something new!

Have you noticed what it is yet? I’ll give you a clue. Check the sidebar. Even if you had adblock, it’ll be a little different. Still not sure? Check the address at the top of the page.

Yes, that’s right. Unusual Things is no longer tied to another domain. Welcome, readers, to maxonwriting.com! Clicking the link, by the way, will bring you right back to the front page, so it might be utterly pointless to do so at this time. But Unusual Things now is its own site!

Which is why the ads are gone. I never saw them unless I tricked the site into thinking I wasn’t the administrator, but I do recall being quite annoyed with their placement (especially as they shoved my “Latest Release” box out of sight). But they’re gone now, because the site is mine, at its own domain!

Okay, they might be back, butat that point they’ll be ads choose, and in locations of my choice. And I’d be making the revenue off them, which isn’t a bad thing. As someone who hates obtrusive ads, though, you can bet I’ll be placing them where they will cause the least annoyance. Top billing here at Unusual Things is forever going to be the content I offer, like Being a Better Writer and my latest books.

Okay, some of you might be wondering what this means for you, aside from maybe some annoying ads vanishing. Simple: Unusual Things is now much easier to share.

Remember what the address was before? When it was at the wordpress domain? maxviking.wordpress.com. Not exactly the best (or easiest) address to give via word of mouth.

Maxonwriting.com, though, is. Max on writing, dot-com. Boom. Takes people right to the front page. Know someone looking for writing advice? Max on writing dot-com. Okay, it’s not as easy as Max viking dot-com, but I made the mistake of searching to see if that domain was open, and immediately someone snapped it up. So Max on writing dot-com it is.

Okay, I’m spending a large amount of today’s BaBW post’s lead-in on this, but there’s one more change that this opens up: Unusual Things is no longer limited to simple, straightforward web design.

First, immediate, caveat: I am not a web designer. I’ve done some graphic design stuff … but extremely tangentially, and I would not claim to be a graphic designer. Unusual Things‘ design is simple and plain, which is good … but it could look smoother.

Don’t expect any changes immediately. I have a few small ideas in mind, but right now, the site is going to stay looking pretty much the same as I experiment with the new tools at my disposal to see what I can and can’t do. I would like the site to look a bit cleaner and more professional, but I’m not about to dive all over giving it wild fonts and appearances. Unusual Things needs to be kept simple and clean above all else, easy and unobtrusive.

Right, that’s the news. At least, all the news for today. Check back tomorrow for even more news. Yes, I have been busy lately, why do you ask?

Bah, moving along! It’s time to talk about writing! Well, sort of. Editing, actually. Today’s topic is an interesting one from the list. I can’t recall when it got on there, only that it had to do with a discussion somewhere about the challenges of editing, but it was one of those topics that came up that instantly made me think: Oh, that’d be a good one to talk about.

Now, you’ve probably guessed what it is if you’ve even glanced at the title. Today we’re talking about editing, and we’re talking about one of the more difficult parts of it: cutting stuff.

I’m going to start right away by throwing down a gauntlet: You will cut stuff when you edit your story. If you don’t, you’ve probably done something horribly wrong.

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Shadow of an Empire Update

Hey readers! Dropping a small news update here for Friday afternoon to keep you updated on Shadow of an Empire‘s Alpha progress!

And the update is … It’s going well! I’m about halfway through cleaning up miscellaneous errors and fixing little plot niggles that slipped through, and so far the feedback from the Alpha Readers seems to be that it’s a fantastic story with fascinating characters, a cool setting, unique magic system, and fun plot. With, you know, minor Alpha stuff to fix here and there, which is the point of an Alpha after all. Making sure all the numbers add up, that there aren’t any lingering loose ends, etc etc.

Crud, two of them finished it in the first week. I’m playing catch up with the changes!

Bottom line, though, is that the Alpha is going well and it doesn’t appear that there will be a third Alpha, which means … Yes, Shadow of an Empire will be moving into Beta! Which, naturally, means that there will be openings for Beta Readers soon. Interested? Let me know. If you’re a prior Beta Reader, especially, as you guys are basically instant welcomes.

So, what does this mean in the long run? Well … it means that a release could come as early as, oh … Mid-April! No promises, but … that’s the goal!

Anyway, back to it! I need to get a bunch of chapters done today so I can get this into Beta!

More Alpha Readers Needed!

Hey readers! Just a quick post here but …

I need more Alpha Readers. A few of my old standbys are busy with life/college/etc and are unable to contribute at this time, and I’d really like to get a few more eyes on Shadow of an Empire before bumping it to Beta status. Right now, we’re sitting at one Alpha having already read through completely, and a few more working on it, but I’d like to get a wider net if possible.

If you’re interested, have the time, and up for an early look at an awesome Fantasy-Western, drop me a line. The sooner I get Shadow out, the quicker I’ll be able to start work on the next Dusk Guard book, since Hunter/Hunted is my next project …

Shadow of an Empire Editing Rolls On

Not much to say today, folks. Work on alpha editing Shadow of an Empire is rolling on, about halfway through the first pass now, and that’s been keeping me pretty focused. I’d forgotten how fun this universe was to play in. If you read the short story Ripper from Unusual Events, then you’ve already had an early taste of what Indrim has to offer. Shadow of an Empire is a lot bigger, though, being an epic novel. Ripper was just a short story. Still, if you’re looking for a preview of what’s coming and don’t want to support on Patreon, grab a copy of Unusual Events and pay close attention when you read Ripper. Might be you’ll see some faces from there in Shadow of an Empire …

Anyway, things are pretty quiet on the site front mostly because I’m just plugging away at the editing process. Oh, and Monday’s Being a Better Writer post is going to have to be on Tuesday, as I’ve got a long shift on Monday. So heads up!

Last but not least, I thought I’d throw out a comment made the other day on a discussion forum about books that turned to “High brow literature” versus “low brow literature,” as I feel it’s a good comparison. One poster was asserting that they only read “high brow” quality stuff, and none of the “low brow” stuff that’s popular and read in large numbers, because they wanted to “experience quality.” I made a comparison response that, I think, worked pretty well. Here goes, cleaned and trimmed a little.

Millions of people drive Toyota Corollas. They’re known for being a quality, dependable car that lasts and performs it’s purpose with simplicity that to most is elegant in its simplicity. It doesn’t need Walnut-trim door handles. It doesn’t need a special shifting pattern, or even a manual gearbox. It’s a car that does exactly what it’s supposed to do without any fluff or unneeded complexity.

Then you have something like a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. A “high quality” car designed with the purpose of “experience quality.” And sure, it might be nice to ride in one from time to time, but it’s a car with brakes that cost as much as a Corolla that the driver will never use. Walnut trim on the door handles that looks nice but otherwise adds little but the look. Suspension that confidently assures you that you’ll never feel a single moment of discomfort provided you keep the car on specific roads it’s meant to travel and not anywhere else (yes, read into that).

Point being it’s nice to ride in one occasionally, but much of what it is, while pretty, is superfluous to actually being a car. But you still have car enthusiasts that look down on Corolla drivers for not having a “quality car” like a Rolls Royce, Bentley, etc.

All they’re really doing half the time is spending ten times as much to make an otherwise simple journey in ostentatiously overblown “comfort,” away from “dangerous roads” and “lowbrow designs.”

IE there’s a time and place for a luxury ride in a nice car or with a high quality book, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re somehow superior to the majority of Corollas out there delivering the same end-goal and scenery without the Walnut door handles.

I thought it was a pretty good comparison. Look, there is something nice about reading an overly verbose and flowery book once in a while, a title far more concerned with the flow of its language than the intelligence of its characters or plot. But you don’t need those things to have a good story, one that provokes thought or carries the reader down an unknown road (and often, the more “high brow” stuff sticks to the same roads repeatedly rather than going anywhere unexplored). Both can get you to the destination: one with “luxury experience,” the other with a bit of character and sometimes even some daring when it makes a detour off the normal path.

Anyway, back to work! Gotta get Shadow of an Empire ready for its big debut!

By the way, if you’re a prior Alpha reader, check your inbox for your Alpha Read invitation and get back to me. A couple of you haven’t responded yay or nay yet, so the invites are just floating in the limbo.