Think You’re Done? What about the Extras?

I’ve seen very little written about the “front matter” of a book. It’s not enough to slave for months (sometimes years) to write a book. Just when you think you’re in the clear, the book has been copy-edited and is clean, clean clean (if not, contact Anneli Purchase), and will be published soon, you realize you have to face all the writing for the front matter of the book – the part before the story begins.

You need to have a title picked out. That in itself can be a nightmare. You may think you’ve got the perfect title thought out and then you type it into the search space on amazon only to find there are already 18 other books listed by the same title. Back to the drawing board.

Then there is the matter of copyright. That is the least difficult. Once you tell the world that the following is your work and yours alone, your work is considered your own. In Canada you send  the information about your book (title, number of pages, subject area, date of publication, etc.) to Library and Archives Canada, and you will receive the exact information that is to appear on the copyright page, including an ISBN.

Next, the dedication of your book. Who would be flattered to have your work dedicated to them? Who is deserving of the honour of being named  in the front matter of your magnum opus? 

Then come the acknowledgements. Very important! Don’t forget to thank those lovely people who were your main support throughout the struggle of writing this wonderful book, those “without whom this book would never have been written.” But maybe you can think of some more original way to say it.

Unless you have a prologue, the front matter is basically done, but there is one more headache waiting for you. Two actually. You need to come up with a cover description – a paragraph telling the reader what your book is about. The trick will be to make them want to take the book home and read it. You will also need to make a shortened version of this enticing description for advertising purposes, in some cases for a flap jacket, or maybe next to the book cover image on the amazon page where your book is for sale.

And of course this all assumes that you have a cover image for your book already prepared. (If not, call Anita B. Carroll.)

When all is done, you can relax at last. Ha, ha. Just kidding! That is when the work begins. This is the part most authors would love to do without – the marketing. But whole books have been written on that subject alone and I won’t try to tackle it in this post.

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Meet Vanessa Salazar

Today it is my great pleasure to have Vanessa Salazar on my blog. I have asked her to respond to some interview questions so we might learn more about this talented author. Welcome, Vanessa.

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Where do you live and what do you like about living there?

I am a Caribbean girl. Born and bred Trinidadian. My country is a place where people still say good morning to strangers, and it doesn’t matter what is happening in the world; Trinidadians always like to have fun.

What are your favourite hobbies?

I love going to the beach on weekends. During the week I read just about anything and watch TV dramas like Homeland, Scandal, and Games of Thrones.

 How did you get started with writing?

I was actively looking for writers workshops I could attend or groups I could join. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a First Time Author Appreciation function. I attended the function and learned that there was a Writers Union of Trinidad and Tobago. The following Saturday I attended a meeting and subsequently joined the organization. There, I began writing short stories and within the first year I started working on Selima and the Merfolk.

What do you like about being a writer?

I like that there are no limits to what you can write. Fiction writing is totally dependent on your imagination, so all the daydreaming I used to do as a child was good practice.

What would you like people to know about you?

Firstly, my prize possession is my family who have always been very supportive of me. Secondly, I am an ordinary person who decided to overcome my fears and ended up fulfilling my dreams.

What kinds of things do you like to write about?

Folklore and fiction which, depending on what you write, can be the same thing.

What is the title of your book?

Selima and the Merfolk.

Can you tell us in  a sentence or two what it’s about?

It’s about a girl who is forced to live with her estranged father in Las Cuevas. There she discovers a mystical river inhabited by merfolk.

Do your characters end up having learned something in the story that has improved them in some way? What values have they learned that will aid in their growth towards adulthood?

My protagonist has a fear of rejection. Falling in love aids her in curbing that fear because you have no choice when you fall in love. You simply cannot help yourself. Incidentally, falling in love helps her repair her relationship with her father. She learns to trust and forgive.

Do you have another book planned? Without giving away the plot, can you tell us what type of book it will be?

Yes, I do. I am working on the sequel to “Selima and the Merfolk.”

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Where can people buy your book?

If you live in Trinidad, copies can be purchased at:

Paper Based Bookshop – Hotel Normandie, 10 Nook Avenue, St. Anns

Deltex Art Shop – 66 Pembroke Street, Port of Spain.

You can also send me a message on my blog’s contact page and I’ll get a copy to you.

Hardcover, paperback and e-book copies can be purchased online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Writing a Book

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How did I ever get started writing a book? What made me think I could do it? Now that I’ve done it several times, how do I feel about it?

I honestly don’t know why I wrote a book. I love writing, but mostly my writing involved short stories that evolved from sending emails to friends telling them about  funny things that happened to me on outings like trout fishing or mushroom picking.

I suppose the stories got longer and longer until one day I had to tell the story of a woman who lived in a remote cabin with a man who turned out to be mentally unstable. He was like the little girl with the curl, right in the middle of her forehead — remember that poem?) Like her, “when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad, he was horrid.”

This woman and her captor had a story to tell, so I thought, Why not? I could tell this story.

That was when my education began, about how to write a novel. It was so much more complicated than just dashing off a magazine article or a blog post. So much  to learn.

I was lucky. I joined the local writers group, found a good friend and author, Darlene Jones, who became my best ever writing buddy and critiquer, and another good writer friend, Kathleen Price, who is a great substantive editor and understands how to prepare a novel for the paperback layout.

With the help of these two good writer-friends, and a supportive husband who has all the commercial fishing background to fill in the gaps in the setting of my coastal story and check it for accuracy, I was able to write The Wind Weeps.

When I got to the end of the book, I had a dilemma. I couldn’t decide which of the eight possible endings to use. Each one left some readers unhappy. No way could I please everyone.

There was only one solution. Write the ending that I liked, and then write a sequel. In a few weeks that  sequel should be available to readers. I’m so glad because it has been a long, hard journey to get it there. Between The Wind Weeps and its sequel, I wrote two other novels (Orion’s Gift and Julia’s Violinist). But get ready, Reckoning Tide is coming your way soon.

You can find my books on amazon.com and on smashwords.com

Please leave a comment and tell us how you got started in writing.

Find and Replace

When I have a long piece of work to edit, enhance, and rewrite, it helps to use the technology available to me. My tech savvy is only moderate, but I’ve learned to make good use of some of the functions available to me.

One of my favourite tools in Word is Find and Replace.

Suppose I am reading over a section of my writing and I’ve just realized that my Constable Andersen mentioned near the end of the book is spelled “sen” and elsewhere in the manuscript I’m sure I had it spelled Anderson with the “son” ending. Now I’m wondering how many more times I’ve spelled it Anderson, and where in my manuscript might those instances be?

Luckily, using Word, I don’t have to read the whole ms to look for “Anderson.” That’s what Find and Replace is for.

I go to the beginning of my ms and click on the Home tab. On the far right, I see a tiny set of binoculars with the word “Find” beside it. I click on “Find” and in the navigation window that drops down, I can type in the word I’m looking for.

I type in “Anderson,” the word with the wrong spelling (for the purposes of my novel). Word will automatically take me to each case of “Anderson” when I click the up or down arrow. At each stop, I have the option of going into the text to change the spelling to “Andersen.”

If I had a change to make that involved more than just a few words, I could use the Replace option to do the work for me. Depending on which version of Word you have, you can either click on Replace (under the binoculars on the right), or, in older versions, click on the Replace tab in the window that opened when you first clicked “Find.”

It’s a fast and easy way to be sure to find all instances of some mistake you may have made.

Watch out for a funny thing that can happen when you are using Replace.

Let’s say you were changing one of your characters from a girl to a boy. Every time you have referred to the girl you’ve said “her.” Now that you are using a boy, you want those words to say “his,” not “her.”

But beware. Find will show you all cases of “her,” even if it is only a part of a longer word. If you changed all cases of “her” to “his,” you might end up with a new spelling nightmare with “mother” changed to “mothis” and “there” changed to “thise.” As I’ve discovered, there are many words with the letters “her” in them.

Definitely use Find, but use Replace more carefully.