The end of the trilogy…Revealing Serenity #SCIFI #Bookrelease

After a great deal of editing, and more editing, book 3 in my Divided World trilogy is almost ready. Pretty excited to see the cover, and can’t wait to finalize it on Amazon.

When I started this writing journey, I had no idea how much effort would go into turning the original idea into the series…and then publishing it. I’ve been working on this series for, off and on, about 10 years. It’s definitely time to tackle something new!

I would certainly like to come back to these characters, and there is a lot more story to be had. Although I put a line in the sand for certain aspects of the story line, I left a little sliver open, and there are a great number of sub-characters who might be worthy of some air time. Especially Nate, who everyone loves!

It was great to spend the Christmas period writing something completely new with fresh characters for a planned six book series. Book one is with Beta readers at the moment. Book 2 is in the incubation stage…I’ve managed a couple of chapters so far, which is at least a start!

I have no idea yet how it will pan out…which is what I love about writing a book, you’re never sure exactly where it goes until you reach the end.

The potential for artificial intelligence in the world of fiction #writing #amwriting #AI

I was reading a book this week, The power of habit. The second section looks at how business has embraced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to predict buying behaviors for their customers. This works very effectively due to the way we humans follow habitual buying patterns. In the book they discuss the infamous Target story where they sent promotions for baby related products to a 15 year old girl, initially causing outrage from her father. Essentially the machines knew she was pregnant before her family did. How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did

“AI can, with some reliability, predict whether a song will be a hit or not.”

The content that really piqued my interest was a story of the song ‘Hey ya’ by Outkast released in 2003. I’m sure most of us know the track. It was huge. When it was first heard by music execs, they knew it would be a hit…and so did their AI. The music industry uses artificial intelligence to listen to tracks and evaluate them prior to a human even bothering, using a combination of frequencies, tonality, BPM, etc. The AI can, with some reliably, predict whether a track will be a hit or not. When initially released, however, ‘Hey ya’ wasn’t very successful on the radio. The book explains how machines are now predicting what track should precede a new ‘unfamiliar’ track on radio stations to prepare the human brain for what’s coming. Almost a calming effect. In this case, it was a track by Celine Dion. Go figure! Well, if you read the book, it explains why. Effectively, AI understands humans so well that they can manipulate us (in a positive way) to receive new experiences.

I couldn’t help but think about how this can be applied to fiction. I know little about contemporary publishing practices, but there is definitely potential for AI. Can AI read a new work of fiction and evaluate it for success? Determine the market segments it will appeal to, sales volumes, etc. The benefit is it bypasses the somewhat flawed processes of an author sending a tiny synopsis of their book and some sample writing to an agent hoping the 200 word pitch does justice to their masterpiece. Instead, the book can be submitted online straight to a publisher and the AI can determine whether they should take notice or whether it’s junk.

“Some writers will see AI manuscript evaluations as a blessing since it takes the subjective human out the loop.

…And some may see it as a threat.”

As the technology becomes more advanced and continues to learn, there is a business opportunity for an AI service to help authors directly evaluate their own work before they submit to a publisher or self-publish. For example, the AI could provide an initial rating and feedback. Perhaps on writing style issues, inconsistent use of perspective, inconsistencies in the storyline.

But where can it ultimately go? Maybe the AI service could edit the book for you, so authors could focus more on the original story and characters, and worry less about the grammatical and structural side of things. I wonder if books would start to feel too similar, even though the story and genre are different, if they all went through the same grammar sausage factory.

Talking a step back for a moment, if AI is evaluating books, is there a risk that a daringly ‘different’ story or writing style is rejected by the AI because it’s not following the approved formula?

“Maybe, like the music industry, the publishing industry needs to recommend you read Harry Potter for a warm, familiar feeling before taking on American Psycho!”

Finally, how long before AI writes new and original books. Many newspaper articles today are being written by AI. Typically, for fact based articles. See how Associated Press are using AI (https://automatedinsights.com/case-studies/associated-press). What the AI produces is all factually correct and perfectly written, but it can’t yet provide opinions. We tend to read newspapers to get insights from experienced journalists rather than bland facts.

In Yoval Noah Harari’s excellent book Homo Deus, the author discusses a case of an AI composing classical music. It was scoffed by the aficionados of classical music, so a kind of musical Turing test was proposed by the developers of the AI to see if experts could determine which pieces were composed by an AI and which were from the best human composers. Spoiler alert – They couldn’t. Worse than that. They thought the AI produced work had far more emotion in it!

“So, books WILL be written by AI.

When? I don’t know, but it will happen.”

What then? Will they churn out fascinating new works of fiction? Will they slowly use works of fiction to subliminally influence humanity? Views on AI and its potential tend to be quite polarized. But it won’t be constrained to replacing our mundane jobs. It might be taking over creativity too. Maybe we are destined to just be batteries after all.

What are your thoughts?

Using Third Person vs First Person Novel POV (Survey)

So far I have always used third person in my own work, but I have often wondered about giving first person a go…and I read lots of both.

What’s your preference? And why?

It’s been a while since we had a survey! 🙂

A great article on the subject.

Using Third Person vs First Person Novel Narratives (Link)

The Six Writing ‘Blocker’ Personalities #writing #amwriting #amnotwritingverymuch

Every writer loves to write, but with the best intentions, ‘stuff’ can get in our way.

Here are the six writing blocker personality types. Which is your favorite?

The star

You have an ‘amazing’ story idea, but you become distracted with how ‘amazing’ your life will be once you are a famous writer…

The minion

You have motivation, you have ideas…but ‘real’ people and ‘real’ life is demanding all your time!

The daydreamer

You have ideas, but the ideas are so much fun…and you just want to think about them.

The procrastinator

You want to write, you really do, but there are too many distractions in your life.

Like Twitter!

Or Facebook!

Or a snack!

Or a snooze!

The blank page

You’ve got nothing <sigh>. Absolutely nothing.

The cat wrangler!

The writing planets are aligned…unfortunately, there is something furry lying all over your keyboard.

Sharing is Caring Thursdays #3 Editing, querying, writing myths, and growing your blog

I’m delighted to be included in this wonderful list of articles on writing. Some new sites to explore 🙂

Richie Billing

It’s Thursday. Nearly there now. That weekend is in grasp. If you’re stuck in work, I hope the rest of your day goes swifter than the hand of a pickpocket, and a good one at that.

It’s that time of the week to give you a round-up of some of the best articles I’ve come across in the past seven days. Self-editing, querying, writing myths, and growing your blog. I found these immensely useful. You’re bound to find something of use yourself.

Thank you, bloggers, for your excellent content. Keep up the fantastic work!


Writing Tips – How to self-edit a book by G.L. Cromarty

https://thewritingchimp.com/2018/01/15/writing-tips-how-to-self-edit-a-book-amwriting-editing-books-writingtips/

Editing is a tricky and tedious exercise. It’s so easy to miss even the simplest typo. I do it all the time. G.L. Cromarty feels our pain too and in her insightful article, shares some of the tools she uses to help catch…

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BookReview ~ The Introvert by Michael Paul Michaud #books #bookreview

A vacuum salesman by day, the introvert lives a quiet life alone with his dog until a work relationship and a dark secret from his past team up to create an uncomfortable imbalance in his otherwise ordered life, one that soon finds him squarely at the center of a murder investigation. With his thoughts continually urging him to make people “red and open” and to “achieve it” with his girlfriend Donna, what follows is a sometimes brutal, oftentimes hilarious, and absurdist account of the life of one very anti-social and unexpected anti-hero.

Guest Review ~ by Lee 

I wasn’t clear how to even categorise this book. It’s a fairly quick read and at the outset I had a pretty low opinion of it. The title is misleading and that I think threw me. My view was that this is a book written by an extravert trying to portray what it’s like to be an introvert. I still feel that to a degree. The writing is a bit clumsy in places.

However, the main character isn’t an introvert really or maybe I’m just offended. He’s more high functioning aspergers.

I’ve read comparisons to ‘The Curious Incident of the dog in the nighttime’, but it has little in common with that and more in common with ‘American Psycho’.

If you find it slow, stick with it. It improves.

My rating: Three Stars!

 

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Writing Tips – How to self-edit a book #amwriting #editing #books #writingtips

While nothing can replace an editor, there is certainly a lot you can do yourself before it reaches a professional’s hands to get your work into shape.

And your beta readers will thank you!

I’m definitely not claiming that this is the perfect way to self-edit, nor the only way! But this is what works for me.

What’s wrong with just reading it?

I am brilliant at spotting typos and editing errors in other people’s work.

I am utterly useless at spotting them in my own!

I do know a number of ‘lucky’ individuals who can spot what’s wrong in their own work…but this is not me. Once I have submerged myself in my story, I am pretty much blinded to a myriad of problems from that awkward sentence to that typo to using the wrong word!

So, I have an editing routine, and that forces me to explore my work in a way that brings the issues to the surface.

What tools do I use?

Word: I use Scrivener for writing, but I still copy and paste the manuscript into word between each round of editing.

Why do I like Word? Because Word still picks up a good number of simple defects, and if you are anything like me, you only need to look at a sentence to introduce a typo.

And it takes no more than 15-30 mins to check the whole manuscript!

Hemingway: Simple to use and cheap! I bought the desktop version, but you can use it on-line for free.

Why do I like Hemingway? It’s great for picking up passive voice, adverbs, and unnecessary words. A quick pass through Hemingway a chapter at a time clears out a lot of garbage from my work.

Grammarly: Simple to use, but with costs (monthly / quarterly / yearly subscription).

Why do I like Grammarly? It picks up an interesting set of errors that complements the Hemingway findings. For example word choice / better word pair / wrong word. I have also found it to be reasonable  on grammar. I will do a more in-depth review of Grammarly in another blog post. It’s excellent for that first draft!

The sequence of editing.

The high-level activities

  • Read the whole manuscript looking for plot holes (optional)
  • Word
  • The spreadsheet – list of words and phrases that are my personal weak spots
  • Hemingway
  • Grammarly
  • Read and correct a chapter at a time
  • Listen
  • Read the whole manuscript

Let’s get into the details…

I have managed to stop myself editing-as-I-go, which means the chapters can be in a pretty grim state when I start editing.

There is a temptation to jump into reading at this point. But again, I have found it more effective to get on with my editing routine. Things that are missing in the overall plot do still become apparent even without doing a whole read, BUT, I’m going to put it as an optional here as long as the first read doesn’t turn into a random editing session.

1. (Optional) Read the whole book looking for plot holes. No editing yet!

2. Search for the words and phrases on my spreadsheet. So what is my mysterious spreadsheet you might be wondering. Well, it’s a list of words and phrases I have noted to search for in my work.

For example crutch words like ‘just’.

There are over 200 different words and phrases I look for!

It’s not always a seek and destroy, some of the words or phrases just lend themselves to a poorly written sentence. Whenever I find them I can reassess that sentence and tighten it up. I’ll give you a couple more of my examples, however, I would suggest that any such ‘seek’ list is a personal list a writer builds up over time in relation to their own writing style and their own weak spots when drafting

  • Nodding, shaking head and other visuals. We all have our favourites, and most real people nod far less than you realize. Do a bit of people watching, you will be surprised!
  • Feel, feeling, felt – what is it they are feeling and is there a stronger word choice that will cover this (he felt sorry for them = he pitied them). Some of these may also indicate telling, such as ‘he looked angry’. I also search for ‘look, looked, looking’!

3. Put the whole manuscript through Word. By the time I have finish hacking the sentences about it’s usually in a bit of a state and a quick 30 mins to run it through word again will help.

4. Hemingway: Chapter at a time. Looking for passive voice, unnecessary words, adverbs.

5. Grammarly: Chapter at a time. Looking for passive voice, grammar, better words, wrong words etc.

6. Word again! Because I have an amazing ability to reintroduce spaces or typos!

7. Listen using text to speech: OMG this is the absolute best for spotting those sneaky missing words or even wrong words where autocorrect has jumped in.

8. Read a chapter at a time. REPEATEDLY. And keep adjusting those awkward sentences. Until I am 90% happy. (I say 90% because otherwise I would never finish!)

  • I also check for unnecessary backstory at this point…if in doubt hack it out!

9. Word again!

10. Text to speech again!

Done!

Now I can read the whole book from start to finish: By this point most (but certainly not all) errors will have gone such that I can at least read it with a level of flow. If you are anything like me there are many more iterations of reading.

And then you send it out to Beta readers.

And then you change it!

And then you edit all over again!

I do hope you found some of this useful! Happy editing 🙂

If you want to try Hemingway or Grammarly, here are the links:

BookReview ~ Room 119 by TF Lince #books #goodreads #bookreview @Room119TFLince

Room 119 High-flying trader Dean Harrison has it all – the London penthouse apartment; the fast car; the beautiful wife. But when the threads of Dean’s life start to unravel, they do so with alarming speed.

Following the advice of a frail stranger, Dean sets off for Welnetham Hall Hotel and is plunged into the mysterious world of Room 119 – a world where nothing makes sense. How does everyone in the hotel know his name? Why does he travel there on a train line that shut down over fifty years ago? And who is the sinister man in black who pursues him wherever he goes?

As he gradually pieces together the puzzle of Welnetham Hall, Dean is forced to re-evaluate his life and realises that nothing is more important to him than his wife and daughter. Desperate to get back to them, he vows he would lay down his life for the people he loves.

It’s a promise he may have to keep.

Guest Review ~ by Lee 

What a ride! I nearly put this book down as my first genuine DNF. I just thought the initial part of the story was too ‘unreal’ and it irritated me. Yes, fiction, unreal, blah blah. But it was worth persisting. The story is like a blend of Ghost of Christmas Past, Life on Mars (TV) and Wall Street!

It’s a great story with some great feel-good moments. It put me through all of my emotions and at one point I was ‘Oh no, you’re kidding’.

The characters are engaging, the writing is ‘easy reading’, but maybe lacks some sophistication. However, it is the author’s first book and from his ‘foreword’ he only started writing in 2017.

I formed an early opinion as I often do and considered this a 3/5, then as I progressed I gave it 4/5, then ultimately because I enjoyed the tale so much a lenient 5/5.

Good stuff!

My rating: Five Stars!

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Author Interview – Cassandra Parker ‪@Marburg759

Today I have the pleasure of introducing author Cassandra Parker, who will be sharing her thoughts on reading and writing, and details of her new book Harley’s Redemption.

 c_usersburgettdocumentscreative-workspublishedcassandra-parkerharley-memariCassandra On Writing

I have always been an avid reader. I am here to write, to learn, to be creative, and to have fun. I write because that is who I am. I see inspiration in everything such as the falling of a leaf, a child’s laughter, etc. I write because I can remember and to keep those memories alive. I remember my mother’s voice calling to me to come in for lunch on a hot summer day. I remember the smell of fresh mowed grass in the early morning. I remember how cool the lawn felt with dew drops glistening from each green blade. I write for pleasure. I write because I must.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

To read, read, read. Study the genres you love to read. Write what you love to read. Never give up. Even if everyone tells you being a writer is hard and you will not make it, look these naysayers in the eye and tell them, “I am a writer. No one can take that away from me. I will always write no matter what.”
Practice the craft. Study it, look at how a story is “shown” and not “told.” Find time to write 1 page a day, everyday. At the end of a year you will have finished a book. Never believe what you have written is too good for editing. Edit brutally, but also learn, and know when to stop. Edit to tighten the story but do not edit so much you lose the heart of it.

What is your favourite genre(s)?

I love romance in all its multitude of forms. Romance is wistful, poignant, and classic. It makes the heart beat faster; it brings a twinkle to the eyes, a tear drop, and a smile. Romance is love, joy, pain, and loss. It is endearing and lasts throughout time for all eternity.

I love SF because it takes place in worlds different than our own.

I love dystopian novels because it explores our humanity and our struggle to remain human.

Have you ever skipped something important to stay at home and read a book? 

Yes, I have. I was so engrossed in the story The Haunting by Shirley Jackson I completely forgot I was scheduled to work.

If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) What book would it be?

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It was one of the books that drew me into a whole different world and created a love for books and ultimately for writing.

Are you a one book at a time reader, or do you jump between many?

I read one book at a time so I can savor the story. I become so completely immersed in the tale I lose track of time, location, etc.

Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?

I’m currently reading Girl on a Train. It is a hard read for me because it is not in one of my favorite genres.

Harley’s Redemption by Cassandra Parker

Harley is a rebel soul, lashing out at his family because all they care about is their social standing.  They are destroying him piece by piece. He is a biker on a downward spiral with his world falling apart. Together with his man servant, Garrett,  he sets out to discover himself and look for the angel in his visions. This is his story about failure, redemption and his search for Mari.
Mari thinks Harley is drop dead gorgeous. He is the guy in most girls dreams. When he smiles she sees the innocent angel and the rascally devil in him. Harley loves her with reckless abandon. To Mari, Harley is her joy, her present, and her future. She loves how he encourages her to seek adventure, and to follow her dreams.
Harley’s Redemption is a romance filled with comedic and tragic moments. It tells the story of two college students as they discover the love of a lifetime. This is the journey of two people who discover true love is endless, endures through all the heartbreak and laughter, and transcends time.
Come Ride With Harley.

You can also follow Cassandra on her blog! CassandraParker.wordress.com.

If you have recently published a book and would like to feature in an author interview,  please email at TheWritingChimp@gmail.com