Tag Archives: books

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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It is links day!  Every Monday, I bring to you my top ten favorite articles about the craft of writing from my own surfing habits.  This week, I found a couple of interesting items about writing memoir in addition to general writing tips.  I enjoy writing the occasional short story memoir, as you can see in my writing credits. I hope these articles will help to inspire you to tell your own stories.  Finally, I wanted to post something about Hugo Award winner Vonda N. McIntyre who passed away recently. I had the pleasure of meeting her at WorldCon a few years ago and found her an inspiring writer and teacher. She will be missed.

What Is the Relationship Between Plot and Theme?

FANTASY WORLDBUILDING, MONEY, MONSTERS, AND FOOD

In Memoriam – Vonda N. McIntyre

The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Editor: Ben Bova

Why Copying Other Successful Authors Won’t Make You Successful

Tips on Writing Believable Conspiracies for Thriller Fiction

Five Activities I Use to Beat Writer’s Block

Plot, Inner Change, Evocative Writing—What Really Rivets Readers?

How To Write A Non-Fiction Book Outline In Two Days

Writing to Heal: The Benefits of a Cathartic Novel

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

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Happy Monday!  It is time for another batch of writers links here on No Wasted Ink. This week I have a great list of general writing tip articles and a few that deal with writing science fiction.  Enjoy!

It’s True. Young Readers Should Not Be Introduced To The Genre With Old SF, But….

The Art of the Playlist

Breaking Down the Battle of Winterfell from a Military Perspective

A Tale of Tropes

THAT IS A WORD THAT CAN BE CUT MOST OF THE TIME THAT YOU USE IT

5 Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa)

The Write Advice

Resorting to Manual Methods

Six Pros and Cons of the Magic School Genre

Picking the Right Setting Details

Author Interview: Jennifer Brozek

Award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer, Jennifer Brozek has spent over a decade doing what she loves most: writing about interesting worlds with unique characters and creatures.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Jennifer BrozekI’m an award-winning author, editor, and tie-in writer. I have four cats, one husband, 1500 books, and no children—just the way I like it. An avid reader and sometimes crocheter, I enjoy playing ARGs (like Ingress and PokemonGO) and tabletop RPGs—current favorites are Pathfinder, D&D 5E, and Shadowrun. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am both a Pluviophile (a lover of rain) and a Gluggaveður (a lover of window weather). My favorite words are: Peril and Thwart. I just really like the sound of them. One of my goals in life is to eventually live on a bluff by the ocean. Probably in Oregon.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote casually for my RPG characters in the 1990s. I started writing to get paid in 2000. I got serious about it in 2004. Then I quit my tech job to become a full-time author in 2006. I wrote then and I write now because I have stories to tell. I’ve written for free. I’ve written for pay. I always write for joy. Joy + pay = a good life.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when I was hired to write on the Dragonlance sourcebooks: Legends of the Twins and Holy Order of Stars. That’s when I started writing fiction to someone else’s schedule. I met my editor, Sean Everette, on a text-based RPG game. He ended up hiring me to write for his magazine. When he was hired by Margaret Weis as an editor for her company (Sovereign Stone at the time), he brought me along because he liked my writing and knew I could hit my deadlines.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’s called BattleTech: Iron Dawn. It is book one in the Rogue Academy trilogy. This is the first YA BattleTech trilogy from Catalyst Game Labs. It’s about a pair of orphaned siblings who won their way into the Ritza Academy on the Federated Suns border planet of Emporium, and what they decide to do when the Draconis Combine come to invade. Jasper Roux is a MechWarrior cadet while Nadine Roux is an infantry/tanker cadet.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was asked by Catalyst Game Labs if I’d be interested in writing a YA trilogy for them. They wanted a high action YA series that could bring younger heroes to a new audience. I wrote the first ever BattleTech YA novel, The Nellus Academy Incident, back in 2014. It was well received and won a Scribe Award for the best YA tie-in for that year. After some brainstorming, we came up with an idea I was excited to write. It is a bombastic coming-of-age-while-at-war story. It’s about the relationships between people, the family we’re born to and the family we choose. Also, there’s a lot of ’Mech-on-’Mech battles.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write page-turners. Sparse but evocative location descriptions and body language to convey emotion. I’ve been writing long enough to understand that I still have a lot to learn—and I learn more with every novel I write. I start in media res (in the middle of the action) and try to end every chapter on a mini-cliffhanger; the metaphorical equivalent of a man bursting into the room with a gun.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I was looking to recreate the feeling of the military/invasion movies from my past (child of the 80s) like Iron Eagle and Red Dawn. I ended up merging the names because “Iron Dawn” seemed to evoke the beginning of something in a military sense. It also fit well within the Rogue Academy trilogy’s sense of time. Book two is called Ghost Hour while book three is called Crimson Night.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Sometimes you need to act when everyone tells you not to. Sometimes you do know better… or at least what’s right, but you can’t go it alone. Think, consider, then act.

A lot of the time, adults are faking it. They don’t know what they’re doing any more than teens do, but they also have the added complication of being in charge and being responsible for the people in their care. It’s why, a lot of times, it seems like adults refuse to listen to their children or the teenagers they are responsible for. They feel they can’t shirk their duty or show fear.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The sibling fights. Sometimes, siblings fight just because it’s what they’re used to doing. At the same time, family is often the one thing you can rely on to back you up. As a military brat, I moved around a lot and the only stability I had was my siblings. They were familiar—both friend and foe. Above all, they were family.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

My goodness. What a list. Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, Steve Perry, Seanan McGuire, Stephen King, Susan Cooper, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Cat Rambo, Annie Bellet… the list doesn’t stop. Each of them brings something to the table for me: a writing technique, the lyrical phrase, effortless worldbuilding, cliffhanger chapter endings, distinct voices, and amazing storytelling. I learn something from every novel, novella, and short story I read.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Susan Cooper and her Dark is Rising series. If I had not read that as a lonely ten-year-old in a foreign land, I don’t think I would be an author today. Her series opened my eyes to the magic of reading and writing. I reread that series about once a year.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover artist is Marco Mazzoni. He was assigned to the novel cover by the BattleTech Line Developer and based it on my art notes. He did a marvelous job. As an aside, there is another Marco Mazzoni who is an artist, lives in Italy, and does beautiful pencil work. That’s not this Marco Mazzoni who lives in America and illustrates a lot of BattleTech games and novels.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. You may take parts of the journey at a neck-break pace, but there will be hills, mountains even, that you’ll struggle with—plodding (and plotting) as slow as molasses. Just remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, one word after the other, and breathe. As long as you’re still moving you’re doing the right thing. Also, write the stories you want to read. I always do my best work when I’m excited and interested in the story I’m writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading what I write. I appreciate it and you.

Iron Dawn Cover for displayJennifer Brozek
Bothell, WA.

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BattleTech: Iron Dawn

Cover Artist: Marco Mazzoni 
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs

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Self-Publishing: Is It A Viable Way To Make Money by Carmen Webster Buxton

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Self-Publishing: Is it a viable way to make money as a writer?

The answer to the question above is a resounding “maybe.” Or possibly, “it depends.” The factors involved include not only your skill at writing but also your skill at promotion. There are many reasons for that.

In the past, publishing your own book was a huge expense. In addition to the costs of editorial help, as well as page layout and typesetting, you had to pay a printer and a bookbinder to print thousands of copies, so that you would have them on hand to sell. You needed not only a big chunk of money, but also storage space for cartons and cartons of books. And once you had the books, you had to sell them yourself, either directly to readers or by persuading booksellers to do it for you.

The invention of the ereader (mostly the Kindle, frankly) and the tablet computer have meant an explosion in publishing. With print books, once a title sold out of available stock, if it wasn’t selling fast enough to justify the cost of a new print run, the book was declared out of print. In the past, most book contracts gave publishing rights back to the author after the book was out of print. Since an ebook is never in print, it’s also never “out of print.”
And in fact, another invention called the Espresso Book Machine has changed print book publishing, too. The EBM looks like an oversize photocopier, but it can bind the book as well as print it. With properly formatted PDF files for the cover and book interior, the EBM can create a single copy of a paperback book in a matter of minutes. This process is called print on demand (POD).

Between POD and the lower cost of ebook publication, a writer’s backlist has become a revenue source again—maybe not as much as his or her newer titles, but every little bit helps. Also, the creation of self-publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook Press, Draft2Digital, etc., has meant a huge increase in the number of titles for sale online at any given time.

This means if you publish a book, it joins the ever-growing stream of titles available for sale. Millions and millions of books, all for sale.

So, writing the book takes time, but not that much money. Getting an already edited book ready to publish takes some level of technical skill; if you have the skill, the task can take more time than money. If you don’t have the skills, you can hire folks to do it for you. The one task that’s beyond most people (unless you’re a graphic designer) is the creation of your book cover; for that, you will need to spend money. But once you’ve got that book created and into the online marketplace, what is going to let readers know your book is out there?

A big part of the answer is promotion. If you self publish, promotion is entirely up to you. And promotion can take a huge amount of both time and money. Again, the question of skills is part of how promotion will work for you. Are you someone who is comfortable going to conferences and talking about your book? And are there venues where you know you will find an audience that would like your book? If you’re not comfortable with in-person promotion, there are other things you can do. You can pay for advertising, either the kind that appears to users on platforms like Facebook or Amazon, or you can pay to have your book featured in one of the many email newsletters that ebook readers sign up for, like BookBub, Ereader News Today, Robin Reads, The Fussy Librarian, etc.

Generally, the bigger their subscriber list is, the more expensive the service is, and the more stringent are their requirements for inclusion. As an example, some email services require a minimum number of reviews.

Another consideration is genre. Some categories of books sell much more than others. Remember that “marketable” and good” are not actually synonyms. It’s worth it to research the ebook best sellers in your genre and see if your book is anything like them. Self-publishing with POD is helpful, but the overwhelming volume of self-published books are sold as ebooks, and some genres are more popular in ebook format than others.

A handful of self-published authors have broken through with very successful books, like Hugh Howey with his post-apocalyptic Silo series, Amanda Hocking’s paranormal romances, and the huge hit Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.
A good number of writers make a living self-publishing, but by far the huge majority don’t support themselves from writing. You don’t want to quit your day job until you get a really good multi-book contract or a movie deal.

What it all adds up to is, self-publishing can work for you, if you have the right book(s) and the right skills (or a willingness to learn), but it’s by no means an easy way to make money.


Author Carmen Webster BuxtonA voracious reader since childhood, Carmen Webster Buxton spent her youth reading every book published by Ursula LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, and Georgette Heyer. As a result, her own books mix far-future worlds, alien cultures, and courting customs.

Sometimes a specific event from real life will trigger a story idea for her, but she always works it into a science fiction or fantasy setting. When her parents divorced after 28 years of marriage, this led her to ponder the nature of marriage and create a species that mated for life, in her novel Alien Bonds. But most of her books began merely as an image in her head of someone in a specific situation—a thief selling stolen goods to a fence, a man hunting game in a forest, or a young woman walking behind her father while he looked for someone to buy her. The urge to find out who those people were and what happened to them would almost always result in a book.

Carmen was born in Hawaii but had a peripatetic childhood, as her father was in the US Navy. Having raised two wonderful children, she now lives in Maryland with her husband and a beagle named Cosmo.

Carmen’s blog
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Alien Bonds on Amazon

Book Cover Alien Bonds