Self Publishing - Part 1

There's a recent post on the Fidra blog that made me crack up.

But although Vanessa uses a lot of humor (she has Ms. Bookshop Owner say, "...after I’d noticed that you’d managed to work elements of The Three Little Pigs, Harry Potter and Hollywood Wives into the plot.” ::snerk::), what she has to say about how not to get your self published book into a bookstore is serious, good reading.

She does have a follow up here, but I'll digress on that for now, until I read it.

I'm No Expert...

...but I am damned opinionated at times. (Did you like my sorrowful, woebegone rant of the other day? As heartfelt as that was, those types of rants are few and far between.)

Vanessa talks about the old model of vanity presses, where you had to buy a thousand or so hardbacks and store them in a garage or a closet or in a dungeon. I personally know my sister-in-law's one friend, Amy, who went that route (although she opted for paperbacks), and heaven knows where she stored 'em all (I mean, living in New York City, in her "opium den," as she called it, I didn't see a heck of a lot of space to store oodles and oodles of books.

Heading For the Chains

The "oops" moment is calling up one of the local bookstores. Now, to be fair, I've heard that at some of them, a manager has a few local interest books; books about the area's history, its flora/fauna, spooky/weird stuff, that sort of thing. But, for the most part - it ain't happenin'. You can kiss most of that goodbye.

You might be lucky. You might get a manager who's sympathetic to your plight, and might - might - take a look at the first few pages of your tome (although maybe not at this point in time, with the economy, yadda, yadda, yadda).

But if grammar and spelling aren't big on your Hit Parade, you've got trouble coming your way. (Today seems to be Cliche Day for me, lol.) Seriously.

Go ahead. I dare you to purchase a self-published book. Some of them are pretty good. The grammar isn't too bad, the typos are kept to an absolute minimum, and the plot is fun/interesting/worthwhile. I purchased one such book last year, and although I haven't gotten back to reading it, it was obvious to me the author took the time to make sure the basics were taken care of, plus she had a fairly interesting plot.

But, Then Again...

I also just recently purchased another self-published book. Yuck. Mistake. First of all, the title was misleading. Instead of talking about what I thought the dude was going to talk about (this was non fiction, BTW), he talked about something related but different. Only in the very last chapter did he talk about what I thought he would; talk about barely scratching the surface.

What irritated me just as much was this guy's insistence on using "your" for "you are." Come on. Throughout the entire book, this guy used it this way. Plus there were plenty of run-on sentences.

Note that I don't have anything against run-on sentences in certain instances (especially if it's a character who talks that way), but to use such "techniques" throughout a non-fiction book? Give me a break.

Amateurish all around. And I'll get an Amazon review up on there at some point, too.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Publishing Business

It's about money. The stores aren't going to stay in business if no one buys books. Period. So the owner is going to look for certain things to make sure she has a fighting chance of hanging around for a while.

This, no doubt, goes doubly for the independent bookstores; the chain stores have some deeper pockets to grab for (although even that's drying up). But if an independent is going to hang around, don't you think the owner is going to want a professionally-produced book, one that has everything in place as noted above?


But there must be more to it than that, right?

Step up to Self Publishing - Part 2. Coming soon to a Writerly Stuff blog near you!

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Review Coming Up Soon

I'll be reviewing Goblin's War, by Jim C. Hines very soon.

Thank God for this book. I really think it's saving me right now from being super depressed (as opposed to be just plain ol' depressed).

More soon.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


I'm In a Funk

I've had the flu or a stomach bug the past few days, although I felt much better earlier today.

Went over to my mother's house on Saturday; no problems, even though she'd told me she hadn't been feeling well for a couple of days. She did feel okay Saturday morning.

No problems for most of Sunday.

Then, Sunday night - I threw up a few times, had to run to toilet a few times, too (I won't get into specifics, heh).

I stayed home on Monday and Tuesday. I started to go to work on Tuesday, but felt all weirded out driving, so I went right back home.

Came home, and hubby almost immediately took any fun out of me (trying to set up a radiology appointment at the hospital and having to contact the neurosurgeon's assistant - a non-responder if there ever was one - kind of set me edge for a little while), and I actually cried a bit before.

I could pull the whiny, "Why me?" bit, but it's old and cliched, so I won't go there. But I really wish the past two years hadn't happened; why couldn't just be like that stupid Dallas episode, where Bobby finds out the past year was nothing but a dream.

(Newhart did it much better - funnier, naturally - a few years later.)

Heck, I'm not even talking about the aneurysm I had or having one of my kidneys ripped out (which will come some time this year). That, I can handle.

I can't get into anything more than that except to say that...life at home just isn't the same anymore. Which is probably why I actually look forward to getting out of the house super early in the morning...except for the fact I have to adorable, sweet doggies.

Sorry for rambling on like this, but I just had to get this out, and I don't know who to talk to.

Thanks for listening, whoever you people are.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


What I'm Reading Now

You probably guessed it - Goblin War, by Jim C. Hines (and it's got a wolf on the cover - yay!). I expect to put up a review on this book sometime next week.

I've also been thinking of pulling up Cherie Priest's Four & Twenty Blackbirds (as mentioned in my post of yesterday). I started to read it, then put it away, figuring to open it at some later point.

Which I'll probably do after Goblin War.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck


Mercedes Lackey's Four & Twenty Blackbirds - A Review

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

423 pages

Not to be confused with Cherie Priest's more recent Four & Twenty Blackbirds, which is described as a southern (as in southern U.S.) gothic novel (which I also have, heh).

A few years after the paperback first came out (1998), I happened to see an excerpt online (in 2000 or so), and was immediately taken with it. For many years, I asked for this book as a Christmas present, but I finally bought it myself in about 2003 or so, and I read it every now and then to enjoy it all over again.

This is part of Ms. Lackey's Bardic Voices series, but you don't have to read any of the other books to understand what's going on; that's a good thing, especially if you pick up a middle or an end book and the publisher doesn't bother you tell you those things. (In this case, Baen plainly shows that this is Book IV of the Bardic Voices series.)

What initially drew me to this particular story?


The Story

It's hard to say what initially drew me to this story and why it continues to do so, but let me give you first things first.

Tal Rufen is a constable, walking the beat in the city of Haldene. Haldene is a bit of a backwater, with its share of down-on-their-luck people, those trying to eke out a living as best they can.

It's an icy night as Rufen is on the scene of a grisly murder of a street singer. She's been practically disemboweled with a knife, and the murderer...well, he jumped into the nearby river, drowning himself.

As Rufen begins to dig into this case, another two cases, with similar victims and murderer who always commit suicide after their deed, are practically thrown into his lap. He suspects that the similarities - lower-class women and a three-sided stiletto - point to a serial killer. But his superior doesn't believe it, and doesn't want Rufen to pursue his hunch.

That a three-sided stiletto is used in certain Church rituals might have something to do with it.

Rufen is one of only a handful of constables in their area who actually cares about his job, and when one of the killings happens on his beat, he decides to pursue it despite what his superior tells him.

So he quits his job and goes to the capital of Kingsford, where he hopes to impress a Justiciar-Mage into helping him find the killer, as the killer seems to be headed toward Kingsford...

My Take On It

As always with Ms. Lackey's tales, the characters are quite interesting. Tal Rufen is a caring constable as is typical of these types of stories. But what's more interesting is his obsession with finding the killer; he doesn't bemoan his superior, he takes action, action he's not sure will amount to anything.

He's surprised when he goes to Kingsford and is brought to High Bishop Ardis, whose cousin is the king of this kingdom. Ardis has a very strong personality and is a fairly strong mage; maybe this is why I like this so much - because I connected with Ardis.

When Ardis was younger, her father wanted her betrothed to one of his cronies - for political or trade reasons. Ardis was 16 at the time, and even then was headstrong. She suggested going into the church, and her father acquiesced. As her betrothed was about five times her age, she didn't care.

Here's another part I liked; she has doubts, when Rufen comes on the scene, about why she became "betrothed" to the Church (think of priests and nuns) and whether she should give it up. That she's unsure of herself adds to the complexity of the character.

Now, if you're the type who doesn't want to know who the killer is, don't bother picking up this book. If you'd like to see what might drive a killer - who maybe was a hedonist before this but certainly not a killer - then you might want to give this try. We get into the head of the killer not directly, but through a helpmate of his. That the killer would trust someone else...well, let's just say the helpmate kind of walked into the middle of things...and talked with calm and coolness to keep from being killed himself.

There's also a richness of detail of the environs without Ms. Lackey cramming every last little detail down your throat. The contrast between what Rufen had to deal with Haldene and what he deals with in Kingsford is like night and day, and he's rightly befuddled by it all for a little while.

It ends as I thought it would, but it makes sense. The ending is foreshadowed a chapter or two before, although there's some heart-stopping moments near the end. I won't go into it, but to see and feel what happened to the victims...tune in tomorrow for...

Sorry. I just had to do that.


Ms. Lackey gets a tad wordy here and there, and she sometimes has a character get up on a soapbox, but it's not overly done. This is a very readable tale with some not-too-deep psychological insights, so have at it, if that's what you're looking for.

Love and kisses,

~Nancy Beck