Advice on the Web

I try to be careful about giving advice on writing online. For one, though I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school and ‘serious’ writing since ohh…. ’02 I am by no means an expert. And the more I learn, the more I work on improving my own weak areas the more I’ve come to accept there is no way in hell I will EVER know it all. I get better, I work hard at trying to make the story I’m trying to tell clearer and crisper. But I still have a long way to go. I’m not where I want to be yet.

When I see people proclaiming they know the ‘right’ way to write, or the ‘best’ way to do [insert issue here] it frankly pisses me off. Why? Because if there is anything I have learned since joining online writing communities and discussions is that there in no magic pill. There’s no ONE way to do things. There are many methods of getting the story down.

I overheard/viewed a conversation on twitter by a person notorious for spouting know-it-all crap. This person told another writer that if you wanted to write a novel like a movie then study how to write out sccreenplays instead.


I had a hard time biting my tongue, I’ll admit. First of all writing a screenplay and writing a novel are two distinctly different animals. Second this know-it-all has never actually finished a short story, much less a novel. Now I don’t know about yall, but if I’ve never done something, lets say knitting (which I’ve tried but never gotten the hang of). How can I tell someone how to knit a scarf if I’ve never managed to get two straight rows without dropping a few stitches?

Bottom line, I can’t with any authority. Because I really have no fricken clue what ‘stitch two *purl three’ means (and I may have messed up THAT example, though probably proved my point right there :P)!

So how can this person, with little to no actual writing experience dare to give any kind of advice on writing fiction? This person has absolutely no credibility!

And that credibility thing is important to me.

‘Online’ gives people a platform to shout out their opinions and their thoughts on whatever subject they want. Whether or not they know what the hell they are talking about.

I am cautious about what advice I listen to. What opinions I take to heart. I have my own opinions sometimes heavily influenced by people and opinions I hold in high regard. I also try (I do fail at times, I’m far from perfect) to do my research and make sure that the person giving me advice on whatever subject they’re talking about, has the proof to back up their claims.

So I’ll give a bit of advice here, something to keep in mind when you observe and/or participate in online writer discussions, conversations & chats;

  • If someone EVER spouts off theirs is the one true way of writing/pubbing/editing, know they’re wrong, and most likely power seeking cretins. Some people get a high telling other people what to do and how to do it. And they usually don’t have the background to back it up. There are many roads leading to Rome, not any of them is the ONLY one. If something doesn’t work for you, feel free to try something else.
  • Do your research. Before you take their advice. If someone is giving out lessons/advising on any given subject make sure they know what the hell they’re talking about. As an example, I’m currently taking an online workshop called Before You Hit Send which is geared towards improving your self-editing skills. It’s been put together by Angela James who is executive editor of Carina Press, this is a gal who knows what she is talking about. She WORKS as an editor and has done it for years. I’ve heard a lot of very good things about this workshop by people who have taken the course. I did my research before I decided to invest in the workshop. Do your research, investigate whoever is giving you advice (myself included :P) before you take the advice. It could save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
  • Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. People get emotional, when they get emotional they sometimes (ok a LOT of times) will spout off. Sometimes someone has an axe or three to grind. Keep that in mind when dealing with the interwebs. That person I mentioned earlier has a hair trigger response to what they perceive as criticism  I made a comment in one twitter chat that had nothing to do with this person, and he/she jumped to conclusions that had nothing to do with ME, and everything to do with his/her own ego, and need to be right. And I’ve seen this person do it to others. Smile, nod, and chalk it up to big fish in a little pond syndrome.
  • Follow your gut. Dudes, if you get that uneasy feeling, that maybe this person isn’t quite on the up and up, chances are you’re right. If something doesn’t feel right, if a piece of advice doesn’t work for you DON’T FOLLOW IT!
  • Keep an open mind. The loudest talker isn’t always correct. Sometimes people talk to hear themselves talk. On the other hand, sometimes the person who is talking does have a background to back up what they are trying to say. Don’t just dismiss someone because of how loud, or quiet they are. I will refer back to doing your research before taking any advice. But do keep an open mind, sometimes you’ll find something that clicks in an otherwise sea of BS.

I’ve been involved in online writer communities in one form or another for over 10 years now. I’ve seen a lot of people giving out a lot of advice, some good, some bad, some I’m still scratching my head over. Be wise, be wary, and trust thyself. You know more than you realize you do, even if you are a new writer. Be willing to learn, to try new things. Look for your fav writers online, often times they will have links to writer helping sites, blogs or they may also have their own section geared towards helping writers. Read opposing opinions to get a broader view of any given issue. And have fun, enjoy your writing, your creativity. (ok, some people write and hate it, but I have a hard time relating to that).

And now I have put off dishes and laundry for too long. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite speeches of all time:




* purl not pearl my knitting expert friend informed me…see? SEE?? I proved my point XD

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I have started reading several blogs around the web that are geared towards helping authors make informed decisions about their careers. I have found these blogs to be informative, eye opening and giving me a better understanding as to what is going on in the confusing world of publishing today. I thought I would link to them and give my opinion on them.

first of all over at Paranormal Ladies she just posted a interview (scroll to the bottom) with the Passive Guy from The Passive Voice blog which he discusses his reasons for starting the blog and his upcoming book. I highly recommend giving it a read then cruise through his blog.

In fact Paranormal Indies list of Blogs of interest lists off blogs that I read, which I find very enlightening.

Kevin O. McLaughlin, who recently got booted from AW for pointing out facts about self publishing (and he wasn’t the only one) has a blog up today about what you need to sell your book. Yes, Mr. McLaughlin, I am taking careful notes. 😀

Michael Kingswood is one I have just started following as I was retracing the Sarah Hoyt/TKA train wreak of last week (more on that later). From what I’ve seen so far his blog is interesting and this quote:

a lot of writers seem to have a pathological aversion to common sense, critical thinking, and basic business.

Had me in absolute giggle fits. I think because I’ve seen this myself among authors both experienced and inexperianced. It was sobering however to know that i am not the only one who has noticed this.

Behler Blog has a good post on the consequences of Agents stepping into the publishing arena over here.

Recently several agencies have, in recent months, taken a step to enter the publishing arena the one that caught my attention was the kerfluffle with The Knight Agency. If you didn’t hear about it (tho I think everyone has by now) Sarah Hoyt blogged about her decision to go indi and to drop her agent. In the post she highly praises TKA who has represented her for several years, and explains that she didn’t feel comfortable with the e-publishing step being taken by TKA. Their response was less than stellar which she shares with her response here which she STILL highly praises the very people who tried to bully her (threatened legal action) to retract her statements. She is a better woman than I, let-me-tell-you. I don’t know that were I in her place I would be so nice.

But that leads me to the question; why is such a reputable agency, one that was on the top of MY list of agencies to query, jumping to do something that seems to be a conflict of interests? If they are acting as a publisher then who will they query when finding their clients a publisher will they query themselves? It feels shady and I know for a fact that I am not the only person thinking that. Which is sad, everything I have heard about them outside of this has been stellar.

Now real life is starting to pick up here so I have to go before my kids destroy my house :P.

4 weeks to go…

I do wonder if I should list off my projects and projected launch dates… hmmmm

Take care all

Edited to include Nephele’s input on The Knight Agency side of things;

The link is here and I’ll quote what I consider the key comment here:

Our program includes our taking on the prep work that an author would do to self-publish on their own: finding cover art, converting the format, securing the copyright for their work, obtaining ISBNs, etc. We are not actually publishing anything, but working with the various self-publishing programs at major e-retailers, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, etc. We are not taking a publisher’s commission or cut, but just our standard agency rate of 15%.

And they also state it is for clients only, fyi.

and here is Lucienne Diver’s input on the program.

Why take the trouble? Because the only way to make an informed opinion is by looking at all sides.
That said, I think what bothers more than what still doesn’t feel like a good move by the agency, is their over reaction to Ms. Hoyt’s original post. Their inability to gracefully and gently say good luck, so long. I feel, they overstepped their position and by doing so embarrassed themselves.

But who the hell am I? Some no name, some **gasp** self pubber?

I am a person who once wanted to have The Knight Agency represent me. And when you have hopes like that, at least I put people up on a mini pedestal. Finding out they are, in reality, just human is kind of disappointing.

Anyways, those are my thoughts, hopefully clarified.

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