Tag Archives: Self-publishing

I’m Writing a Novella, Damn It!

I’ve had it with people telling me to write a novel instead of a novella. Why do I put up with writing advice from people who aren’t writers?

I’ve spent my writing career trying to stretch my stories into something that they’re not… Going against my own rule. Often, I tell others, “A story is a story. You shouldn’t worry about length. If it’s meant to be a short story, it will be. If it’s meant to be a novel, it will be. Don’t stretch it into something it’s not, and don’t cut it short when there needs to be more.”

But here I’ve been, going against my own mantra, trying to stretch my own novellas into full-length novels. A lot of the guys I know at work (who don’t even read books, mind you, let alone write them), constantly ask me, “Why don’t you just add ten thousand words?” As if it’s the easiest thing in the world…

OR

“Just add stuff. You’re a writer. Make something up! It’s what you do, isn’t it? Make stuff up?” Easier said than done. Sure, I may have a myriad of ideas but that doesn’t mean that any of them belong together. “Why can’t you just make it longer? Why?

OR

And this is my personal favorite…drum roll, please. “What is a novella?” As if that question doesn’t get old…

What is a novella!? Are you kidding me? Have you not graduated high school English? A novella… you know, like those books you read in school…  The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Time Machine by HG Wells, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (F@#$!ng hate that book), Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury… any of these ring a f@#$!ng bell? All of them are novellas! I don’t actually say this to their faces but I’m thinking it in my head while I’m explaining to them what a novella is.

The other night, I worked on my Facebook Author page and this blog. I took a good hard look at the projects I have in the works. Most of them would make good novellas and with the new platform of being able to self-publish, novellas are making a comeback.


Check out my first novella, Laszlo: The Chronicles of Noelle 1. Don’t have a Kindle and don’t want the paperback version? No sweat! It’s also available on other digital platforms such as the Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Scribd and more.


The short novel faded out of popularity for a while. It wasn’t that readers didn’t like them but rather, publishers didn’t like them. They cost too much to make and didn’t earn a high profit. Publishers would much rather print a book and charge $20 than print a novella and only charge $10. A novella makes a profit but it didn’t make as much profit so Publishers stopped taking them. However, now CreateSpace, Amazon and other online publishers run the literary world.

Is there a market out there for novellas? I have no idea. The internet tells me there is, so I’m inclined to believe it is so (but please don’t believe everything you read on the internet!).

I’m writing novellas because it’s what I want to write.

In the hectic 21st century, a lot of people don’t have time to read the big doorstop books. Even I, who am grown fond of reading, don’t like those big ass books. I don’t have time to read a novel that’s going to take me 5 months to get through. And I’m a fast reader. I want something that I can get through in a month or less. Sometimes I read a book and it only takes a day. Sometimes I read a book and it takes two weeks. That’s my kind of pace.

So that’s it. No more negotiating. No more arguing with myself or my friends and co-workers, who know nothing about writing. I’m going to write novellas. I’m going to write a ton of them. And I’m going to be happy about it. One day, when the world gets around to it and realizes that the novella is back, I will have published 20 of them. People will say, “Oh my gosh! Where the hell did this chick come from? She’s got a ton of novellas! And she was publishing them back when it was uncool.”

If I come across a story that wants to be a novel, fine. I have a few that are going to be a series, so in the end, when the series is complete, I may combine them all into one large door-stopping tome. This way the nitpicky readers who need a book that takes five years to read can have it their way.

I wrote this blog post because I realized that this is one of my blocks. This is one of those (or several of those) voices in my head that shout and jeer along with my inner editor (the bastard!) and tell me, “You can’t do this writing thing!” I would say that all writers have that voice but really, all human beings have that voice. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying and for some reason ashamed to admit it.

At first, I thought it was the people I worked around or the area I lived in but as it turns out, there are writers across the globe who receive that kind of unhelpful advice from non-writers. It’s advice that wasn’t even asked for. Even if you’re not artsy in the slightest, we’ve all received that unsolicited advice.

Keep in mind that while it’s important to have a readership and an audience, there is one person you have to write for above all others- one person you truly need to please to find peace- and that person is yourself. If you have no passion for what you’re writing, or you’ve lost the passion, take a step back and a good look at why. For me, this was it. Writing had gone from fun and play to grueling, unsatisfying work. Don’t get me wrong, writing IS hard work! But I had reached a point where I was forcing my projects down holes they weren’t meant to go. Enforcement caused me to lose passion and I had to take a step back.

Think a novella might be right up your alley but not sure where to get started?

There are plenty of books out there on how to structure novels or how to pace a short story but not too many focus on the novella format. However, much like a short story, you CAN write a novella in one day. Yes, I said it. It bears repeating. It is possible to write a novella in as little as a day. Granted, it may take more time to edit. If you’d like guidance, I highly recommend Andrew Mayne’s book How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours: And other questionable & possibly insane advice on creativity for writers. I find that reading about writing and hearing another author’s advice to be uplifting, motivational and inspiring. I hope that you will as well! Otherwise, why are you reading this post?

Lastly, if you enjoy writing, if you have a passion for your story, it makes the craft easier. Don’t let others tell you what your story should or should not be. You, the writer, know best. It may sound contradictory to now add that one should always be open to growth and constructive criticism. Always remember, writing is a craft that no one masters. Language is ever-evolving. Never stop learning.

Happy Writing!

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

How to Price Your Fiction E-book

Let’s talk about this ongoing game of e-book pricing. It can be tricky. Whether you’re new to the scene or you’ve been publishing for a while, pricing your book is not easy especially when you’re a self-published author. If people have never heard of you, chances are they’re not going to spend $15 on work they’re not sure they’re going to like. However, making your book free or setting it at a very low price undermines your work. Honestly, as a reader, when I see something for $0.99 or for free, I think, “Well this person has no faith in their writing and it’s probably of poor quality.”

This may not always be the case. Some people set a book’s price for free to get reviews. Some make their books cheap as part of an Amazon Promotional Deal like a Free Book Promo or the Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal.

If you are self-published and you haven’t found a good price point yet I suggest mixing it up. Keep length in mind. I’m not going to sell a short story for $5. I tend to keep my short stories at $0.99. This way if someone wants to sample my work, all they have to do is pay a dollar. If it isn’t for them or they think my writing sucks then they won’t be terribly upset over spending $0.99.

I also keep my short stories enrolled in the exclusive Amazon Kindle program called KDP Select. This is because with short stories that only make $0.35 per sale at a $0.99 markup aren’t going to bring in major money so I don’t see the value of putting them on other platforms. I’m still learning and scouting the field myself in this ever-changing economy. A few years from now, I may decide else wise.


A Word on Exclusivity

As far as exclusivity goes, I think it’s important to not put all of your eggs in one basket. If you only sell your books through Amazon Kindle and suddenly the shit hits the fan with Amazon, then where does that leave you? For my longer works (novellas and novels)- I make them available through other venues.

Check out my first novella, Laszlo: The Chronicles of Noelle 1 on iBooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Scribd, Kobo and more!

My debut novel, In Articulo Mortis (Mortis Volume 1), will be available in 2018 across all platforms!


You will find tons of blogs and forums and articles online with other authors giving you suggestions on how to price your book. Keep in mind that just like this post, they are merely suggestions. Keep an open mind, try new things and mess around with the prices to see what works best for you. If you’re self-published, you have the freedom to change the price at will. I recommend giving your price points at least six months of sales before you change them.

My Pricing Guidelines
Short Stories

My short stories range from 2,500-10,000 words. Because they are so small, I always set the price point at $0.99. In my opinion, making them free is insulting. While they may be small stories, they still took time and effort to create. You’ll come across many people who are only interested in your work when they can get it for free. Those are called shitty people. Some of them are likely to rub the “starving artist” stereotype in your face. To them, a writer is either a millionaire who hits it big or someone who pinches pennies and struggles. Heaven forbid there be a realistic middle ground.

Novellas

You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t know what a novella is. Mine range from 15,000-40,000 words. I keep the price point for these at $2.99. This is the lowest price point at which you can receive a 70% royalty on Amazon. I also don’t keep these exclusive to Amazon. My novellas are additionally published through Smashwords and CreateSpace Distributors. This way they are available to other markets across the world. Amazon is only popular in certain countries like America and Canada. Being exclusive to Amazon can limit your audience. Keep that in mind.

Some of you may think, “$2.99! Gosh, that seems really low.” I’m still a very new author as I’ve only been publishing for two years.

Novels

For novels, I can’t see myself going over $4.99, at least not for the digital versions. I’d suggest keeping novels under $5 when first starting. People don’t know you and they’re not going to spend $20 if they don’t know who you are and if they’re going to like you. With all of the competition out there, it’s important to keep your price reasonable but don’t underestimate your worth.


Another Note on Free Stuff

So many people in this day and age expect something for free.

Writing is a job.

If you want to make money off of it, you’re going to have to get used to asking people to pay for your product. It’s a common annoyance amongst artists of all types when people ask if they can have their work for free. The same thing goes for painters and musicians. Art requires dedication, patience, time and, believe it or not, skill.

Creative writing is not easy- if it were, everyone would do it. While it may seem like everyone is, everyone’s not. I know a lot of people online who are writers but I don’t know hardly anyone in real life who is a writer. Maybe two people off of the top of my head. You know why this is? Because it’s not easy.

Some people fall into this “get rich quick” fantasy but that’s not the writer’s life. Most experienced writers will tell you that writing is a long, solitary road. Yes, you can hit it right. Yes, you can make a living from it. Please don’t mistake this post as some sort of effort to discourage you from writing. If you feel like you have something to deliver, please deliver it. Don’t let anyone stop you. But at the same time, don’t let anyone undermine your work. Writing is hard.

In short, play around with your prices. Be fair, but don’t be unfair to yourself. You worked hard on this. You probably paid for someone to make the cover art and edit your work and so if anything charge at least $0.99. Good luck to all of you out there! I wish you all the best. Happy writing.

Photo Art: © Alain Lacroix | Dreamstime.com

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

9 Ways to Increase Productivity as a Writer

If you know me at all, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive. When I have down time at work, I’m running through my list of things to do in my head and determining the most efficient way to get them done. And I love lists! Here are some of the things I do to stay on target and up to par. Do I stick to them like a religion? No. I’m always trying new things but I do hope to one day become a creature of habit. A lean, mean to-do list knocking out machine! So without much further ado, here are my top 9 ways (sorry I don’t have a top 10…deal with it) to increase productivity and stay productive!

1. Have a Plan

In general, having a mode of attack is a good idea. Have a plan. Be organized and take notes. It is so important to know what you’re doing before you start doing it. I get it. Sometimes it’s nice to just get in the car and drive wherever the road takes you but nine times out of ten, you’ve got a destination in mind or a route planned.

A lot of us are pantsers and if you’re like me you’re kind of in between a pantser and a plotter. But when I sit down to write I always have an idea in mind as to what I’m going to write about. This makes my writing so much easier and less painful. On days when I have no plan and I just sit in front of the computer staring at an empty space (or an empty MS Word document) it’s very heartbreaking.

It’s discouraging. It’s depressing. I think that’s part of what gets a lot of writers down. I’ve read that the key to being prolific and producing more in a smaller amount of time, you’re going to need to have some idea- some game plan- laid out. I’m still working on the prolific part myself, don’t worry! We’ll get there one day.

You don’t have to know all the details but it definitely helps.

2. Take Breaks

This may sound counterproductive but it’s true. Take breaks. Sitting for 8 hours in front of a computer without any breaks is like suicide. It can put a strain on your eyes (think of the amount of time the average human being spends looking at a screen every day in 2017), and it’s not ergonomically smart. Use the bathroom, get a snack, get fresh air, stretch… do anything just don’t start playing a video game because then a 10-minute break will turn into the rest of the day and you won’t get any work done.

3. Write by Timer

Simple. Set a timer. This really helps for me. There are many different ways in which you can implement this one.

There’s a program called Write or Die where you set a timer and a punishment. Yes, you read that correctly. The punishment maybe an annoying sound or your words may get deleted if you stop writing. It’s actually pretty cool. I highly recommend Write or Die (know known as Write or Die 2). It’s free and you can also use “reward” mode or “stimulus” mode now, instead of setting punishments. There is a desktop version available for $20. You can find it here.

There are also sites like Write Monkey or Written? Kitten!

Written? Kitten! will show you a picture of a kitten when you reach your word goal and Write Monkey takes away all distractions so all you have is a screen to write on.

Lastly, there’s the Pomodoro method. This is one of my personal favorites. It’s called “Pomodoro” because the man who came up with this method had a kitchen timer that was in the shape of a tomato and Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. The man would set the timer for 20 minutes and do whatever he had to do. Then you can set the timer for ten minutes and take a break. Once the buzzer goes off again you know it’s time to get back to work for another 15 or 20 minutes. This is especially useful is you’re participating in the NaNo Word Sprints during November, April or July. It’s a great way to boost your word count during the write-a-thons.

4. Get Some Sleep

It’s very important if you want to be in your best mental and creative state, to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t deprive yourself of your health just to get your book done. Yes, there will be sacrifices. You may have to give up a social life but don’t sacrifice your health.

5. Exercise

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. If I’m exercising, I can’t be writing. How is that productive? But it’s true. Exercise is a form of meditation. It can help clear your mind and get all of that excess and mental clutter out of the way. Have you ever worked out and found that an issue you were thinking about all day long suddenly became clear- a problem suddenly had a solution and everything seemed easy? That’s what exercise and meditation does and I highly recommend it.

6. Get Rid of Distractions

I wrote a whole post on this and I’ll provide a link to it here. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a workspace that has a ton of distractions. Set yourself up for success by limiting the things that can take up your time when you’re supposed to be writing. Point in fact, this is why I became a minimalist. I was spending valuable writing time cleaning and organizing. When I simply owned less stuff, I had more time and less distractions. Win.

Check out my blog post on Staying Focused and Eliminating Distractions.

7. Tell Other People

Tell other people. Now if you’re anything like me, you hate talking about your writing. I don’t like talking about whether I think it’s good or not. I don’t know why. I love my writing. I love my stories and characters but I hate talking about it. My man and I have had heated discussions and yes, even fights over my writing. However, he holds me highly accountable and promises me things like trips to London…

Also, sharing on social media that I’m writing a novel or editing a novel or writing a short story creates accountability. Depending on how many friends or followers you have, that many people are going to hold you accountable.

8. Get Up Early

I know, I know. I just told you to exercise and now I’m telling you to wake up earlier…after I told you to get sleep which means going to bed sooner. Did I mention that writing requires sacrifice? I’m not a morning person either. But I will say that lately I have found myself waking up earlier and earlier, inspired to get to work and be productive.

They say that there is a huge difference in the mental states of a rich person and a poor person. Wealthy and successful people wake up 3 hours before work starts. Oh my goodness! Right now I’m working from 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. so I’m already having trouble rolling out of bed early. Waking up at 3 in the morning just seems ludicrous.

I’m so used to waking up early during the week that my weekends tend to start no later than 6 a.m. and that makes for at least two productive days if I slipped up during the week.

9. Don’t Multitask!

I have so many writing ideas. I don’t mean to brag. Some writers struggle with where to find ideas but I have so many that I want to write about- so many that I’m in love with. The problem? I tried to divide my energy and focus across all of the projects and that slows me down. (Sometimes I am still guilty of this!)

You want to set one specific goal and stick to it. Put all of your energy and focus on that goal because when your energy is divided and scattered you’re not on top of your game. So if you’re trying to work on five books, or three books and a short story and a novella… STOP. At times, it’s preferable when you get tired of one project, to have the option of spending some time with another one. This I can stand behind but please save yourself the struggle and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Having 5+ projects going on at one time can be a huge mistake. It doesn’t work for me at all because I lose sight of focus, storyline, theme, and character motivation. Everything becomes jumbled and it makes the editing process more grueling.

For further reading, I highly recommend David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. There are hundreds of books out there on productivity. I’ve read quite a few but nothing got to me quite like David’s. If you read anything on productivity, please give this one a try!

I hope this helped at least one person and if you have any questions, comments or suggestions,  please leave them in the comment box below. Happy writing.

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

The Story Determines Its Own Length

Some writers will tear their hair out over story length. I was sitting in my One-Act Play class during junior year of college discussing the instructions on writing a paper with my classmates. I don’t recall what the paper was about but I remember our professor telling us it needed to be double-spaced, 12 pt font, Times News Roman, and all that jazz. She also told us about all of the points we needed to cover but one thing she didn’t address was the length of the paper.

Normally, teachers and professors will tell you that your paper needs to be one page, or three to five paragraphs, or fourteen pages single-spaced. They always dictate some sort of length. I wasn’t alone. Everyone else in the class was a little perplexed because we’re so used to being told how long something needs to be. So we asked the professor how long she wanted our essays to be?

She said, “Just answer the questions.”

Our minds were blown. Just answer the questions? That had never been told to us before. Even though I did not particularly care for this professor, she taught me a very valuable lesson in that moment. When it comes to writing stories and trying to write novels, so many people are bound and determined to reach that 60,000-word goal or that 80,000-word goal and certain stories aren’t meant to be that long.

When I wrote Laszlo, it ended up being about 40,000 words. I felt like that length allowed me to tell the story. But often people who don’t write ask me, “why didn’t you throw in an extra 10,000 words?” “You came this far. Just make it a novel!” “Why don’t you beef it up?” They are very annoying questions to answer. Non-writers don’t understand and no amount of explaining seems to help them.

Certain stories have a certain length. That’s just the way it is.

If a story was only meant to be 2,000 words, then beefing it up to be a 50,000-word novel (by putting a bunch of random crap in there) weakens it. “More” doesn’t always mean “better.” Turning a short story into a novel could turn a brilliant tale into a pile of drivel. On the other hand, taking a story that should be fleshed out to 100,000 words and only writing 30,000 doesn’t let the story really express itself. I know that to non-writers that sounds like a stupid statement. But it’s true. The only thing a story really has to do it tell

The only thing a story really has to do it tell its tale. Period. It doesn’t have to make you laugh. It doesn’t have to make you cry. And it doesn’t have to make you think, feel or care. In some cases, stories don’t even make sense. I’ve read short stories that ended abruptly and seemed to have no point. I’ve watched long movies that ended on odd notes and left me confused and unsatisfied. Perhaps it wasn’t as long as it should have been? Or perhaps it would have been stronger if it were more concise? Forcing a story into a mold that it doesn’t fit only makes matters worse. Let the story determine it’s own length. You’ll know when to stop adding brush strokes to the painting.

So the bottom line is, don’t fret if that story that you wanted to be 20,000 words ends up being 60,000 words or if the story you wanted to be 50,000 words ends up being 10,000. Never fear.

Happy Writing!

Photo Art: © Weerapat Wattanapichayakul | Dreamstime.com

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Let Your Genre Pick You

So you’ve got an idea for a story but you’re fretting over what genre or category you’re going to put it in when it’s ready for sale. Or maybe you’re just starting out as a writer and you want to build your platform and marketing base before you write anything…STOP. Don’t worry yourself over literary labels. First, focus on writing your story, THEN worry about marketing and building a platform.

People say that you need to know your genre before you start because you need to know your target audience. (By the way, I totally don’t get the target audience thing…as a writer, my target audience is anyone who can read.) Write the damn story. Don’t worry about if that grumpy guy you work with will finally be impressed or if that chick on the fourth floor of your apartment building will disapprove. Yes, your audience is important but I think it’s total bullshit to try and target some sort of generalized stereotype…especially when you’re just starting out and you want anyone to read your book.

So, I wanted to write a novel in the fantasy genre…but Horror came out?

Story of my life. When I first started writing, I wanted to be a fantasy author- strictly fantasy. I wanted to write about magic, sorcerers, and evil queens. However, all of the ideas I got were dark. Some of them may have seemed like love stories at first, but then they always turned dark. I had no interest in the horror genre and tried to fight it. Don’t do that.

Embrace what comes to you naturally. If you start writing what you intend to be sci-fi but it turns western, go with it. See where it takes you. Cowboys and Aliens, anyone?

Even now, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I sat down to write what I thought would be a fantasy novel about self-discovery and a rite of passage with a love story intertwined but do you know what happened? It turned completely dark. The fantastical elements are more pronounced and I don’t even think a love story still exists! And I’m fine with that. I’m not going to force the ebb and flow of creativity a certain way (another writer in a Facebook group suggested that we should…because we are writers and therefore gods or something… I don’t know. They spoke about how we’re supposed to control everything. I think they had issues).

Ok. I went with the flow, finished and edited my piece. Now what?

With your short story or novel being completed, it should be much easier to decipher which genre your writing leans towards. Yet, have you seen your Netflix genres lately? There’s action, there’s drama, there’s supernatural horror thriller with science fiction elements and a strong female lead. Wait. What? Yeah. And music has become the same way. No, that’s not rock music, that’s indie adult alternative. When did everything get so complicated?

You’re not going to be subjected to a firing squad if you mark your book as “action” when it’s “suspense.” I can’t say the same for you if you label it as “romance” and it’s really a sport’s almanac. Those romantics can be feisty. But I think I’ve made my point here. What’s most important is to A) not pigeon hole yourself into a specific genre and B) don’t get tied up and concerned with all of the details right away. There is a time and a place for picking a genre and before you write the story, isn’t it. The most important things you can do as a writer are to focus on your story and continuously seek to better your writing. If you produce quality work on a consistent basis, the rest will fall into place.

I hope this helps. Happy writing!

Photo Art © Alexander Ishchenko | Dreamstime.com

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Laszlo: The Seven Year Novella

When I first sat down to write Laszlo’s story, I had no idea it would take me seven years to complete and publish it. However, during the long process, I learned a lot about myself and my writing. Here are some of the most common questions that friends and fans have asked me about the process.

Where did the original idea come from?

The original idea for Laszlo came from a show I was watching on the Sci-Fi (Syfy) channel back in 2008 called “The Estate of Panic.” I was a fan of the host, Steve Valentine, and somehow intrigued by this idea of coming to a large estate with a tall, dark and handsome host- A host that you weren’t sure whether you could trust or not. That’s where the story started.

Originally, there were only two characters- Laszlo and Noelle. I’m not sure if that is normal or not for writers. (As if ‘writer’ and ‘normal’ are often used in the same sentence together.) Often, my ideas start out with one to two characters. The rest step in later. As the story evolved and fleshed out, characters like Ben, Dalca, and Kim emerged. I’m so glad they did…otherwise, it would have been a really boring tale.

Why did it take seven years to finish?

I was under the impression that while I should be writing every day if I didn’t feel the muse, I shouldn’t. I later realized my mistake. A writer writes every day no matter how they feel. The muse won’t always be there.

I’m also a perfectionist and that goes against writing in a very big way, especially when it comes to fiction. I spent a lot of time editing as I went and constantly tweaking and changing things before the story was completely written. That can slow someone down big time.

What did you struggle with the most during this project?

Pinning down the plot was a struggle. I had a clear beginning and a clear ending in mind when I first sat down to write. The middle was a mess- the dreaded drag of the middle- but it ended up working. The ending evolved and ultimately, I like that I opened it up to continue Noelle’s journey because, for a time, it was going to end in that chapel. Dalca’s character changed too and he ended up becoming much more than I had anticipated. I grew to like the guy more than Laszlo. That’s why their roles tango the way they do.

What did you learn after publishing for the first time?

I learned two of the most important lessons when it comes to writing. 1) Don’t wait for a muse and 2) Have a plan for the sagging middle.

I’m halfway between a ‘pantser’ and a ‘plotter.’ I believe in the building of a skeleton and my skeleton wasn’t complete when I started Laszlo. Now, my skeletons are complete when I start the first draft of a project. It makes writing so much easier. I still edit a little as I go. That’s not a rule that I’m against, though a lot of writers are. It makes the editing process at the end a lot shorter if I’m constantly going back and fixing grammar and spelling mistakes off the bat.

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Laszlo is currently available here.

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

Why You Should Not Serialize Your Novel

When I first started publishing, I decided that I was going to serialize my first project. In hindsight, not only was it not so great of an idea but I also went about it the wrong way.

What is serializing?

Serializing is taking a longer work and breaking it up into smaller pieces. It was more popular back in the days of literary magazines, periodicals and Penny Dreadfuls- back when printing was expensive and the literacy rate was low. Don’t get me wrong, it has been used in more modern times. Stephen King first published The Green Mile in serialized format through a magazine. However, it’s not making as big of a comeback as others may want you to think.

Is serialization making a comeback?

No. I wish it was.

The idea is appealing. In our busy world, shorter snippets are more agreeable than a 200,000-word book. But with the overflow of self-published authors (some are definitely worth their salt- Hocking and Howey to name a couple) there are a lot of budding, talented authors selling their grand novels for the same price as one would set for a serial. This opens a whole can of worms (and I’ve considered doing a series of blog posts dealing with the world of self-publishing. The pricing of e-books. Mistakes that self-published authors make. But I digress.)

Mistakes I Made During the Process

Serialization is a great way to get your name out there but it’s most likely not going to make you much money unless you’ve already got a platform and a fan base. If it’s your first publication- don’t do what I did. Don’t try and serialize when you’re virtually unknown. Why? It makes it look cheap- like you’re out for money. You’re putting three pieces out at .99 c at 15k words each…or you could put the whole project of 45k words out for the same price. In short, the competition is too high among unknown authors to release a bunch of short pieces for the same price as one long piece.

I also made the mistake of publishing the first of three pieces without having the other pieces finished. This is a big no-no. Not that there is a time limit on self-publishing but it’s like submitting your first three chapters to a literary agent and then not having the whole book written. It’s literary suicide. And I committed it…and I’m still here and publishing (so obviously it’s not the end of the world BUT-) Save yourself some grief and don’t put yourself under that kind of stress.

Thirdly, I made the mistake of making my own cover art for the two pieces I ended up publishing. Making your own cover art doesn’t have to be difficult especially when you consider yourself an artsy person and have knowledge of graphic design concepts (something I know now that I didn’t know then). The covers looked like shit. The blurbs were awful because they weren’t for the entire story as a whole.

I mean look at these:

My original self-made covers...
My original self-made covers…

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…I made a huge mistake.

Luckily, I was able to take them down and start fresh. I ended up publishing what became the novella Laszlo as one piece. I got an artist to design the cover art and studied how to write a proper book blurb. Within the first night of these simple changes, I had eight downloads. What a big difference! Yea, yea, eight downloads won’t buy me more than dinner for one day BUT for someone who was completely unknown, with nothing more than a Facebook author profile at the time, I considered that a huge success.

The professionally made cover. Much better.
The professionally made cover. Much better. (First Edition)

So should you serialize?

Ultimately, it’s your life and your decision. However, if you clicked on this blog then you must’ve been curious as to what could be said on the matter. I highly advise against serializing especially when you’re new. Could it be an option for the future? Sure. Why not? Could it be an option if your name is J.K. Rowling or James Patterson? Absolutely. And if you do decide to serialize, please don’t repeat my mistakes. I did the stupid stuff and learned the lesson. Now, I’m teaching you so that you don’t have to.

Happy writing!

Photo Art:

Cover © Teodororoianu | Dreamstime.com

Book 1 © Michele1984 | Dreamstime.com

Book 2 © Lio2012 | Dreamstime.com

Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.

5 Reasons to Get a Pen Name and How I Chose Mine

When I first started writing, I typed my name into Google Search to see what would appear. To my dismay, my birth name was a lot more popular than I had realized. After all, I had met tons of people with my first name but no one with my last name who wasn’t family. I found a music artist, a discographer, a “professional spanking model” …yea. Needless to say, I wasn’t any of those and most certainly did not want to be associated with one. After typing my name into the Amazon.com search bar, I saw results for an author with my name. I made the decision then and there that a pen name was required.

Even though the other author only had two books out and she hadn’t published anything since 1999, I had seen enough. I did not want my future audience to be confused. So what did I do? I started researching pen names and began the overwhelming task of giving myself a new identity- one that I could live with should this whole writing thing work. Here are some of the reasons you may be considering a pen name.

1. Your name is already taken by another author, celebrity or popular figure. 

Just like mine. Letter for letter. Word for word. Spelled and pronounced exactly the same. It can be confusing to an audience. Don’t confuse your readers. They are your friends.

I’ve included celebrities and other popular figures in this group. If your birth name is Mick Jagger or Tom Hanks, it may increase your initial sales but I fear what sort of backlashes may come. Will you always be in their shadow? Will their agencies retaliate (even though it’s your real name and you should have a right to it)? Don’t you want your own identity?

2. Your name is very similar to another author. 

This goes hand in hand with the first one, with a twist. If your name is Stephen Kinn or Susan Collins (I believe there are two authors named Suzanne Collins), it may initially boost your sales but what kind of repercussions might there be? Would your work be constantly compared to the other author’s because readers originally thought you were someone else? It’d be heartbreaking to have a bunch of two-star reviews because your style or genre was completely different to what people expected. Yes, it’s their fault for assuming who you were but do you really want to deal with that kind of drama?

3. Your name is hard to pronounce.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Perhaps you’re writing for an English speaking nation but you’re not from one and so your names, alphabet characters, and pronunciations are vastly different. Might be wise to switch it up if you hope to become a household name. How many times have you heard M. Night Shyamalan’s name slaughtered? And that IS his pen name! Have you tried pronouncing his full real name?

4. You’re writing across multiple genres.

If you’re writing fantasy, science-fiction, and horror, fine. They often cross one another’s lines and can be commonly grouped as “weird fiction.” However, if you’d like to write erotica, dabble in science-fiction, write a historical western and a non-fiction book on the proper care of chinchillas…consider multiple pen names.

When J.K. Rowling stepped away from Harry Potter and started writing more adult novels, it backfired. Sure, she was still raking in the money but if you’re writing novels for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. (We’ll cover that in a different post). From then on, when she published a non-Harry Potter book, she published under the name Robert Galbraith. We still knew it was her. However, it allowed her to create a new identity without the pressure of expectation.

5. Your name is associated with something not-so-great.

This is for those of you out there with last names like Hitler, Mengele, Stalin… or if your name is really Pol Pot. Granted, the last name I picked is very similar to Bathory so I’m being a bit of a hypocrite with this one. I thought it was fitting since I prefer to write about darker things. And I really didn’t want people to think I was a “professional spanking model.” I didn’t even know that was a thing!?!

How I Chose My Pen Name

That brings us to how to come up with a pen name and how I came up with mine. At first, I browsed baby name websites. It’s something I do when naming characters. I thought about all the names I liked. I originally published under Elizabeth Tesla which quickly became S.J. Tesla in an attempt to hide my gender/identity. I don’t recall my reasoning.

But there I was, not following my own advice. As a fan of Nikola Tesla, I wanted to somehow pay tribute to him. Should I start writing heavy science-fiction, maybe I’ll go back? In the end, the name didn’t fit me. It wasn’t personal enough. Next, I took a long hard look at my own name and pondered how I could rearrange it. I ended up combining my middle and last names to make Bethory.

Bethory. I’m happy with that. It’s not a real surname so no one else has it, yet it sounds a lot like Bathory which points towards my genres of horror and dark fantasy. Perfect.

Coming up with the first name was a lot simpler. My birth name means “Princess” and Regina means “Queen.” Essentially I just gave myself a promotion. But Regina means more than that. It was the perfect fit. It was the character I most identified with in ABC’s Once Upon a Time and my mother has an aunt named Regina, who (to make a long story short) made some very bold and independent choices in her life which I greatly respect.

Problems You May Encounter With a Pen Name

Now, I had a pen name that actually meant something to me. The only trouble I ran across was from people who knew me in person. When I changed all of my social media accounts to my pen name, I lost a few friends. But hey, if they didn’t know I was an aspiring writer at the time then I guess we weren’t that close of friends.

The other problem you may encounter is when people you know in person find out that you’re a writer and express interest in your work. Then you have to tell them that it’s under a pen name. I once had a co-worker ask me, “What’s the point of having a pen name if you tell everyone who you are?” Well, that’s just it. If you don’t tell them and they know you by your real name…they aren’t going to find your work. DUH. Engineers are supposed to be smart

Hopefully, if you’re debating on taking on a pen name, this has given you enough food for thought. Take your time and don’t expect to settle on something overnight. If you’re successful (and you will be should you stick with it!) you will go down in history with your new identity. Make sure you love it! After all, as an author your name is your brand.

Photo Art from Canva.com

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Regina Bethory is a fiction author. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Bachelor’s in Directing and Play Writing and from Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School as a Test Electrician. She also has a degree in Funeral Services. As an avid minimalist and traveler, she enjoys spending her time learning new things, seeking new experiences and de-cluttering. When she is not writing, she can often be found in comic book stores and early morning matinees.