Write It Like Your Mama Won’t Read It


There is an author out there in the self-publishing world who is known only as the Tattooed Writer. In fact, this gentleman has four different pseudonyms and even his family members don’t know them.

I’m starting to see the wisdom of this.

There is a sense of freedom in being able to write whatever the hell you want without thinking of your mother – or anybody else you know – reading it. This is especially true of sex scenes. Though my books are far from erotica, I love to read and write romance and for me, a romance book with no sex is just boring. Romance novels run the gamut from being totally chaste (Christian romance, Amish romance, for example) to hardcore BDSM and erotica. My taste is somewhere in between. Erotica is far too graphic for my tastes and I can’t stand BDSM (it’s fine if that’s your thing, but ordering somebody around in the bedroom is about as unromantic as I could possibly imagine) but I love a good sensual scene in the middle of a sweet, romantic story.

Like all wonderful, supportive parents, my mother reads every word I write (including this blog. Hi Mom!!) but she confesses to skipping over the sex scenes. This is probably wise. Therefore, I suppose, that means I could write a sex scene a steamy as I please since she’s not going to read it anyway!

It’s more than just my mom, though. I need to come to grips with the fact that really nothing I write is targeted in any way toward my family and friends. My father reads a lot of nonfiction, including things like math books. We are very, very different in that regard, my dad and I…. My mother loves mysteries, specifically “cozy” mysteries, and rarely reads novels save for the ones her daughter writes. My sister enjoys nonfiction on various topics, as well as science fiction. Again, not a novel reader, and she is far too practical for silly romance stories (though she is really too kind to say this to me…) My best girlfriend tends to read much more serious, hard-hitting literature. DEFINITELY not at all what I write. And my husband, my best friend, and favorite person in the whole wide world? He hates to read and has never read any of my books in its entirety.

The fact is, there *is* an audience out there for the unabashedly romantic and fantasy-escapism type of books that I love to read and write. Fortunately for me, romance novels tend to sell quite well. I just need to keep in mind as I’m writing that I need to write for my target audience and for myself. I write what I truly love, and I think you can actually feel that passion (and not just the sex stuff!) rising from the pages. When I’m truly “in the zone”, I live in my story practically 24 hours a day. Right now I’m writing a Gettysburg ghost love story, and I’m listening to Civil War music, reading books on Gettysburg, and listening to battle-related audio books in the car. My head is constantly spinning with character ideas, dialogue snippets, and plot twists. If I’m conscious, you can bet I’m thinking of my novel and the special people who populate it. I don’t have any desire to curtail the raw passion and emotion I feel when truly living in the story with my characters.

Though I am acutely aware that the subject matter and style in which I write likely holds little appeal to any of my family and friends, I am incredibly grateful for their unconditional support. I would feel hurt and slighted if they *didn’t* read my stuff (hear that, husband? Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t read my blog, either. He is still very supportive though, including promoting my extremely gay debut novel to his friends. Now THAT’S love…)

I’m certainly not the only writer who has to worry about what loved ones might think of her work. Can you imagine what it’s like to be E.L. James’ mama? Fifty Shades of Red is more like it…

Just like the old bumper sticker says – Ride It Like You Stole It — I implore my fellow writers to write with all their passion, whatever that passion might entail. Write for your target audience and for nobody else. Write It Like Your Mama Won’t Read It, but like hundreds of readers will.

Family and friends be forewarned – I shall not censor myself! Read my novels at your own risk.

That being said, I do want to send out heartfelt thanks to my wonderful family and friends who read my books without fail and with unfettered enthusiasm, regardless of the weird, silly, and/or sexual plot.

Your support means more than you know.

- Linda Fausnet

Word Choice And Why It Matters

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Jocelyn Crawley! Jocelyn is a 30-year-old writer. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading subversive literature and drinking coffee. In addition to winning several regional and school-sponsored writing competitions, she self-published her first novel, Erudition, in April of 2007. She is currently completing the manuscript for her second novel.  

There’s something pleasantly unsettling about stumbling upon unfamiliar words when you read a web article or literary work–for me, anyway. Each time I run into a term that’s never crossed my path before, a somewhat disconcerting curiosity dominates my psyche until the word is thoroughly defined and understood.

Although you may have found the previous paragraph interesting, you could also be asking yourself an important question: “How is any of that relevant to you as a writer?” I love these types of pragmatic interrogations, so I’ll try to provide an advantageous answer in the following sentence as well as the paragraphs to come. Learning new words is important and ideal for everyone–and perhaps writers especially. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that writers have a tendency to utilize the same words over and over again. Once you develop a loyal fan base that is eager to read your new works and make note of your intellectual progress, they will likely be disappointed to find the same $50 words emerging over and over again. I certainly would be. In fact, I find myself irritated with my own writing when the same damn words (generally precipitate and indigenous) resurface. The repetition and redundancy engender an ineffable irritation that is perhaps best described in terms of flabbergasted shame. I know there are other words out there, and yet my feeble mind keeps wandering back to the terms with which it is most familiar.

As a self-published author, I am aware of some of the challenges that people who don’t take the traditional publishing route can experience as they attempt to build their brand. In my humble opinion, one of the greatest challenges is the attempt to prove that one’s work is credible. And while there are a plethora of things self-published writers can do in order to build and increase credibility, using learned language is oftentimes particularly effective. In addition to showing your readership and prospective publishers that you take the time to find the most apposite words to express a character’s thought or the color of the carpet, building your vocabulary can preclude you from one of the most disappointing and mentally stagnating experiences known to the writer: boredom with one’s work.

When I decided to publish my first novel (Erudition), I was unaware that the title would be a relatively obscure term that many would have to look up in order to grasp the overarching theme of the book. Yet as I began to synthesize the plot and give the characters shape and substance, I realized that this title was arrantly appropriate for many reasons. First, the two main characters of the novel were both very well-read individuals who had extensive knowledge about the literary world. In fact, one of the two is an English professor. And in addition to giving the book the type of learned structure and stature that comes from placing two exceptionally intelligent people on center stage, the acquisition of knowledge (both abstract and experiential) is a prevalent motif within the work. Clearly then, Erudition was an ideal title. It was only after I published the work that I realized the somewhat academic term I’d chosen for the title had a specific, dualistic power. Although some people found the title and scholarly words within the book stimulating and intellectually uplifting, others deemed it all a bit “too much.”  Irrespective of whether the language was deemed appropriate or over the top, the use of scholarly language generated substantive buzz.

These days, I’m thrilled to be running a blog that is dedicated to helping people (the public generally and writers specifically) increase their vocabularies in order to write more effectively. Lately, words such as “gimlet” and “anhedonic” have been subjected to a careful overview as I seek to provide my readers with a thorough explanation of their meaning and implications. Much care is given to seeking out all of the synonyms and antonyms that expand the reader’s understanding of the term’s signification so people will know how to effectively contextualize the words they opt to use. I have always felt-and still believe-that words have power. And when we use them with strategic precision, they acquire an insuperable efficacy that enables our readers to gain a better understanding of the concepts we’re attempting to convey.

Several days ago, I had a brief yet meaningful conversation with a gentleman on the train regarding how sad it is to see so many people embracing a monocultural mode of being and knowing when the 21st century has given rise to such a pleasantly postmodern multiculturalism that makes it safe and common for people of all backgrounds to interact with one another in equitable ways. In describing the modality of individuals who have chosen the former (and very limited) form of existence, I used the term myopic. But then-in recognizing that this word was not fully accurate in articulating the idea I was attempting to express-I stated that the term wasn’t quite right. Now, in reflecting on the actions and attitudes of people who prefer to surround themselves with individuals who are exactly like them rather than embracing the beauty indigenous to diversity and pluralism, I realize that the more fitting term would have been parochial. Indeed, these types of individuals have a narrow view of both external reality and their own subjective existence. And in being able to prove the aforementioned term out of my word bank, I’m much more effective in describing the paucity of their worldview.

Whether you’re simply seeking to prevent yourself from growing bored when drafting your next manuscript or want prospective publishers to know you mean business, utilizing a learned vocabulary is oftentimes the best way to accomplish your objective. If you’re ever interested in seeing old words used in new ways or simply want to add new terms to your already impressive word bank, be sure to visit my blog at www.wordhelps.com. Can’t wait to see you.


Jocelyn Crawley


Follow Jocelyn On Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jocelyn_Crawley

Do You Need an ISBN and Barcode for Your Self-Published Book?


Well, yes if you want to be taken seriously as an author. It’s part of being a professional writer, and most booksellers won’t accept your book without one. It’s difficult to be considered a “real publisher” without an ISBN.

What is an ISBN?

An ISBN is an international standard book number. It identifies a book from a specific publisher, which in the case of self-publishing, is you or the publishing company you have formed. The printer is not considered a publisher, but is viewed as simply a manufacturer of books. An ISBN is not absolutely required, but most bookstores, libraries, and other industry suppliers require one. It is essential for wholesale and retail purposes.

As the owner of the ISBN, you are the publisher of record. Even if self-publishing companies offer you an ISBN, don’t take it. Get your own. Otherwise, they own the number, not you. Should you leave that self-publishing service, you will have to start all over again. You will lose any traction you established at Amazon, etc. And if your book made it into bookstores, it would have to be pulled and re-printed.

At present, you can buy one ISBN for $125, but you can get ten for $250. You will need a unique ISBN for each version of your book, such as e-book, paperback, hardcover, audio, and so forth. If you plan to publish more than one version and/or more than one book, you definitely want to purchase ISBN s in bulk. An ISBN can never be reused, but it never expires. It only takes about five business days to get the number (s) once you purchase them.

Each country has their own official registration agency which supplies ISBNs. In the United States, Bowker is the only supplier of ISBNs. To purchase numbers online, simply go to www.isbn.org.

The ISBN is composed of thirteen digits. The first two or three digits usually indicate the country of origin. The book industry produces many products, so it has the three digit “country” code of 978 or 979.

Bookland EAN Barcode

The barcode is the set of vertical lines that encodes the numerical information identifying the book. The ISBN is an identification number, while the barcode is essentially a price tag. A barcode means the book is scannable for inventory and purchase.

You must have an ISBN in order to get a barcode for your book. International barcodes are used to identify print books, audio books, and software. As each title and edition of a book has a different ISBN, you will also have a unique Bookland EAN barcode for each edition or format of your book.

Though there are several barcode systems in the U.S, you need to get a Bookland EAN barcode in order to sell your book in a bookstore. The ISBN never changes, but if you wish to change the price of your book, you would need to obtain a new barcode. The EAN includes a five-digit code for the price, beginning with a “5″ for U.S. dollars. Thus, a barcode that says 52500 would have a price of $25.00.

It is possible to get an ISBN without a barcode and still get your book into bookstores because the ISBN can be entered manually. However, many bookstores will not accept the book without a barcode. Currently, it costs only $25.00 to get a barcode, so it would be silly not to get one. Besides, getting a barcode makes your book look more legitimate than a self-published book without one.

You can obtain a barcode from Bowkers at myidentifiers.com, and can be purchased at the same time that you purchase your ISBNs.

Universal Product Code (UPC)

A Bookland EAN barcode will work for bookstores but other places, such as grocery stores and drug stores, might require a UPC or Universal Product Code. For mass-marketed books, the UPC goes on the back cover and the Bookland EAN goes on the inside front cover. For non-book products that are sold in bookstores, a UPC would suffice. EAN scanners can usually read UPC, but not the other way around. As a self-publisher, it is unlikely that you will need to purchase a UPC.

International Standard Serial Number

International standard serial numbers, or ISSNs, are numbers assigned for magazines, periodicals, and other serials. These are assigned by the library of congress and do not require an ISBN.

Registering your ISBN

Once your book is ready for sale, you will need to register your title and ISBN with Bowker. Remember, the number is just that – a number – until you assign meaning and product information to it by registering it with specific information on your book. Registering is a vital step toward making sure your book is searchable to libraries and bookstores. Upon registering, your title will appear in Bowker books in print and Bowker syndetic solutions. Registration with Bowker makes it possible for your book to be discovered by online and brick-and-mortal retailers and libraries. To register, go to this link and fill out all the information. Among other things, you will need to list your book’s title, price, primary subject, format, and contributor (s). The contributor can be an individual or a company, but not both. You will need to upload your cover and then the entire manuscript. You must indicate the size of your book in decimals. This link will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to register your book. I highly recommend you read the instructions and tips very carefully, as the information cannot be changed once it is entered!

So, to recap, you will need to purchase an ISBN for each edition and/or format of your book, a barcode for any product you wish to potentially sell in bookstores or online, and you must register your ISBN with Bowker.

Happy publishing!

- Linda Fausnet


Writers: You Don’t Have to Be Good at EVERYTHING

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger KENDALL BAILEY!

I was born and raised in northeastern Vermont. I now live in southwest Minnesota with his wife and son. I’d been interested in writing for a decade or so and finally took the leap (wrote my first novel) the beginning of this year. I’m enjoying my experience as an independent author and am currently working on the second draft of my second novel.

Most writers can’t be everything. There are so many steps in the publishing process that a single person can not possibly be great at every one of them. There’s the writing, story editing, line editing, document formatting, printing, advertising, and selling – that’s the process in broad strokes.

If you’re reading this blog you are probably an author and know that the writing process is comprised of many smaller, quite intricate, tasks. From word selection, to sentence structure, to paragraph building, to scene construction, to overall flow, character creation, believable dialogue, etc. As someone who has self-published and marketed a novel I promise you the other jobs in the publishing process are every bit as involved as the creation of the story. Each step in the process is an art unto itself.

It has been an interesting experience, being a self-published author. In some things (storytelling, dialogue, and flow) I feel like Ali; in others (line editing, formatting, and promotion) I feel like a neurosurgeon whose only tool is a hammer. I have a tendency, when I read my own work, to let minor misspellings or wrong but similar words pass me by. For example, “Brennan knew is dad wouldn’t approve,” when what I meant to say is, “Brennan knew his dad wouldn’t approve.” It’s a small error and most readers would know what I meant but it’s those little mistakes that can distract a reader and take them out of the story.

I thought I was the master of editing when I wrote my second draft. That was until about three people read it and gave me three different, though overlapping, sets of corrections. The point I want to make is, there’s nothing wrong with not being good at everything. As a writer your first job is to be able to clearly communicate an idea. If it’s fiction you need to be a storyteller, guiding the reader along on whatever adventure you have in store for them. If it’s non-fiction, you need to get the facts across clearly and in an entertaining manner so as to keep the reader’s attention. That is our primary function.

 So what now? We’ve written gold, albeit sloppy gold, and we know it. That other people can’t see this fact is their problem, right? Wrong! It’s our problem. Being an author with no readers is the ultimate act of masturbation.

“Oh yeah! My ideas are so good, so cutting-edge and amazing,” the unread author says to the empty room. Insert whatever mental image you want to go along with that one.

I’m an independent author and can not do all of the work alone. As many folks know, the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Knowing that you probably can not do all of the necessary work yourself is a tough admission for an independent author. It was an admission I didn’t make until I’d already uploaded my novel to lulu.com and had some copies sell. There are 33 copies of that original, and quite ugly, version. I own one and the rest were purchased by family and friends.

 We’ve all read commercially published books, probably a great many of them. It’s not difficult to see the differences in our work and commercially published work; at least it wasn’t difficult for me. If I had found someone to format my novel prior to upload I would have saved myself hours of agony trying to get the document just right. I’ve been told my punctuation is a little loose and I don’t doubt it. I simply do not have the right kind of eyes to recognize that myself. What I need is a line editor to give my manuscript a good once-over, make the small corrections, and I would have a pretty kick-ass book on my hands. A book I would feel comfortable shopping around to agents and publishers (After the agonizing querying process – which I haven’t gone through yet. ***SPOILER ALERT*** If I ever do there will be a blog about it.)

 I know I’ve written mostly about myself here and that’s because I know exactly what the problems with my book are. I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. However, some lessons are universal and this is one of them: there is no shame in shoring up your weak points.

Kendall Bailey

My Facebook page
Twitter – @KBaileyWriter
Goodreads Author Page

What To Do If Your Book Sucks



We’ve all been there as writers. You write a bunch of chapters or maybe even the whole damn book, only to be struck by the sudden realization that you think the entire thing sucks. You get that awful, sinking feeling that the story is terrible and predictable and the characters are one-dimensional and boring.

Now what?

You may just need a little distance from the work. Your story may actually be pretty good but you just can’t see it anymore. Step away from it for a bit. Take a breather, and then go back and reread it to see what you really think of it as a whole. You’ll never be able to be totally objective, but it helps to get a little perspective when you walk away for a while.

So, say you’ve already done that. You still think it sucks. Or worse, your beta readers tell you it sucks. Now, you’ve got a problem. Just like your mom told you about your dinner choices – take it or leave it — you’ve got two choices for your book. Fix it or trash it.

Both options are difficult. If you trash it, you’ve wasted all that time with nothing to show for it but lessons learned. There is something to be said for a lesson learned, but trashing a full-length novel is a painful way to learn it. After all that work, you’re not going to have a book to self-publish or to market to agents or publishers. If you choose to fix it, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. You may need to start completely over from scratch. In a sense, you’re trashing it to fix it, which is kind of the worst of both worlds.

Kind of a bummer, huh?

Hang on. I’m going somewhere with this.

Though it sucks to trash your work or to start over, it really is much, much preferable to publishing or marketing something that’s just no good. You won’t feel good about it and it won’t be successful, thus you’ve wasted even more time. The question you have to ask yourself is – am I still interested in this story? Do I even want it to work anymore, or am I just so damn sick to death of it that I’m ready to move on? It can definitely be a relief to decide to let go of a story that’s just not working, thus allowing yourself to move on to a fresh story and new characters that you can get excited about. However, if you find that you still want to make the story work, you must resolve to do whatever it takes to get the story right. If that means trashing the book and doing a page-one rewrite, then that’s what you’ve got to do.

Believe me. I know. I’ve been there.

(forgive me, regular readers. I know you’ve heard this story before. Probably more than once…)

I got the worst reviews of my life on my absolute favorite story. QUEEN HENRY started life as a screenplay. A bad, bad screenplay. It started with a fun, unique idea. Homophobic guy becomes gay and learns an important lesson. That is the story I really wanted to tell, but I executed the tale badly on the first try. Then the second, then the third. I loved the story and the characters so much, but it just wasn’t working. People hated it. HATED IT. People called it boring, said it had no stakes and contained “ham-fisted stereotypes”. One guy said it was “okay I guess for a first screenplay.”
It was my ninth….

I think the lowest point came when I had the stomach flu, was completely nauseated, and opened my inbox to another bad review. I never ever wanted to give up on writing, but I specifically remember thinking If I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t be in this pain right now.

Even in my darkest moment, I recognized that moment for what it was. A crossroads. A turning point in my so-called writing career. I really had three choices that day. Give up writing altogether (no chance. I never even considered that option. Never.), market the screenplay the way it was, or trash the whole damn thing and start over. I knew then what I was going to do. I literally put the whole damn script in the recycle bin, sat at my computer and typed “FADE IN.”

I was gonna fix that goddamn story if it was the last thing I did.

I wrote and rewrote and rewrote. I paid a very nice script analyst who charged a very reasonable rate to help me (I found out later that he used to be the head script reader at Miramax. He charged only $60 for notes. The man was a saint..). He supported me through draft and after draft after draft. He kept saying things like “it’s getting there” and “you’ve almost got it”. I finally got the story to a point where I thought it was really, really good.

I submitted QUEEN HENRY to a screenplay contest, which was terrifying. It was one of those contests that provided feedback. For better or worse, they were going to tell me what they thought of it. The pain from all those bad reviews fresh in my mind, it was horrible to have to wait for their critique. I kept getting messages from them saying that they got more entries than they expected, thus the delay in providing feedback. The wait was excruciating When, I FINALLY heard back from them, I got word that QUEEN HENRY was a Finalist.

It was a small contest to be sure, but I was a Finalist nonetheless. I’ll never forget how exhilarated that made me feel. I just couldn’t believe it.

Years later when I decided to try novel writing, I knew QUEEN HENRY had to be a book! It wasn’t difficult to write the novel version, since I’d worked so hard to perfect the screenplay. It’s amazing to me to think of all the changes that took place in the story during all those rewrites. The core story remained the same – Straight homophobe turns gay and learns a lesson – but just about EVERYTHING else was radically altered. At first, Henry was an ordinary guy who was engaged to a woman and had become gay through supernatural means and simply learns how it feels to be treated badly when he was gay. BLEH. AWFUL. In the final version, Henry is a womanizing, major league baseball player who becomes gay due to an experimental asthma drug and falls desperately in love with a wonderful man named Thomas. MUCH BETTER.

As of this writing, the book has been out for two months. Though bad reviews are absolutely inevitable, I haven’t gotten one yet. (YET.) To date, I have 14 good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. A blogger from Baltimore OUTLoud reviewed QUEEN HENRY. The review was featured on the front page of the newspaper, and included the following statements:

“Glorious, deliciously-written work of fiction…

Fausnet’s writing is extraordinary in this fluid, fast-paced tale…

Queen Henry is a truly well-written novel with potent drama and campy humor laced throughout. Though it contains messages to LGBT folks and others, it is also a gorgeous love story and one that should not be missed. Fausnet swung and hit a home run.”

- Steve Charing, Baltimore OUTloud

In addition, I was recently invited by a local chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to do a book reading. The idea of sharing my words, my story, out loud thrills me behind measure.

The great reviews I’m getting now are so powerful and mean so much more because of what I went through on the earlier drafts. I can hardly believe how something that was once so terrible ended up turning out so good. I can’t tell you what it means to me to finally have people know and love Henry Vaughn, Jr. the way I have loved him from the beginning.

If I can do it, I know you can, too.

Does your book suck? Do you still love it? Then FIX it, and DON”T STOP UNTIL YOU GET IT RIGHT.

To this day, people tell me QUEEN HENRY would make a great movie…



Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger Sara Bain!

Sara published her debut novel, The Sleeping Warrior, in 2013 under her imprint Ivy Moon Press. She is a freelance journalist, photographer, graphic artist and author living in South West Scotland.

“I demand that my books be judged with utmost severity, by knowledgeable people who know the rules of grammar and of logic, and who will seek beneath the footsteps of my commas the lice of my thought in the head of my style.”

Louis Aragon

There was once a time when the book review was called a “literary criticism” and involved lengthy scholarly theories that focused on analysis, description and interpretation of literary works, expounded in a critical essay. Sometimes constructive, often destructive, and occasionally even deconstructive, authors and publishers would hold their breaths while they waited for that important evaluation that would make or break a lifetime’s hard slog.

Daphne du Maurier’s critics hated her: they called her a second rank “romantic novelist.” Adolph Huxley’s Brave New World and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies were immediate commercial disasters after they received a harsh press from their critics.

Moreover, there were, and still are, a few mischievous columnists who would use a book review as an opportunity to showcase their own writing aptitude or expertise on literary theories to the detriment of the author’s finest efforts. Also, with any form of arts critique there is always a danger of over-analysis by attempting to get into the writer’s mind.

Whether we authors like it or not, criticism is unavoidable. Sometimes a novelist will use a plot device or sentence structure because he or she ‘just did’. There is not always a reason for placing every individual word in a certain series or introducing a particular character half way through the storyline. It just happens that way and, if the reader doesn’t like it, you just have to take the blow of their disappointment on the chin.

As DH Lawrence said, “the touchstone [of literary criticism] is emotion, not reason” and, thanks to the internet, the judgment of the literary critic holds little sway against the might of public opinion.

Emerging from the World Wide Web is a new breed of literary critic whose opinion counts for everything: the book reviewer. Today’s reviewers tend to be book lovers who wish to spread their enthusiasm through dialogue on social media sites. They give up their time to read your work and make the effort to tell others about their experience. Their opinions are as varied as the stories they read and they stand as representatives of the diversity of individual taste.

Sometimes waiting for a book to come back from the reviewer feels like standing in the gladiatorial arena, with one eye locked on the teeth of the lion and the other on the thumbs of the crowd. Will my efforts get that row of shining stars or will it be struck with one?

No author wants a bad rating but, at the same time, must realise that you can’t please everyone. The one star rating is inevitable. Some reviewers will complain about the story; some can’t invest any emotion in the characters; some don’t like the colour of the cover; and some are cross because the book didn’t arrive on time.

Taking a look on Amazon at the reviewers’ comments on a selection of the top-selling books of all time was a stark reminder that individual readers will applaud or jeer you for what they get out of your book, which is not necessarily what you, as the author, intended them to experience. Here’s a small sample of what some reviewers said about the world’s most successful books:

  • Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities (top-selling book of all time): “last 100 [pages] could have been taken out and, substituted for something a little less dull” – 2 stars
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five: “OK, I read it, but I literally have no idea  what this is about” – 1 star
  • Virginia Wolf, To the Lighthouse: “Slow and monotonous” – 1 star
  • Robin Jenkins, The Cone Gatherers: “Awful, depressing and cruel” – 1 star
  • J D Salinger, Catcher in the Rye: “very annoying and extremely boring” – 1 star
  • Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie: “What a load of rubbish!” – 1 star
  • Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None: “one of the most boring and, at times frankly irritating, murder mysteries I’ve ever read.” – 1 star
  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick: “too nautical for me” – (that one made me laugh) 1 star
  • Jack Reacher, Personal (Waterstones’ top seller 2014): “Unbelievably bad” – 1 Star
  • Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code: “foetid mess of a book spewed by accident from the substandard brain” – 1 star
  • Jeffrey Archer, Be Careful What You Wish For: “Boring and repetitive. Requires no brain!” – 1 star.
  • E L James, 50 Shades of Grey: 2,145 – 1 star.

Up until today, when I made the above list for this blog post, I was always afraid of that dreaded one star which would negate my efforts to publicise my precious work as an “excellent” read. My five-star majority ratings gave me a sense of pride and self-worth as I felt it somehow validated me as an author of good fiction.

I now understand there is a certain amount of freedom of expression for the self-published author. With the coming of the online book reviewer, who is more interested in a good story than a missing semi-colon, the once mighty literary critics are no longer the watchdog of readers’ tastes. I would advise any author, therefore, to write what you would like to read. Some readers will hate it, others will love it, and a few will completely miss the point. The number of stars don’t necessarily increase sales but the opinion of the reviewer is important. Even if those views don’t agree with yours or whether you feel they have got it wrong – everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and you’ll never get it completely right.

- Sara Bain



Interview with Kickstarter Author Chris Votey

This week, Wannabe Pride welcomes writer Chris Votey who has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance his writing. Read on to find out about him and his project. I hope you will contribute the campaign to help a fellow hardworking writer!

Kickstarter Project

How long have you been a writer? What made you (crazy enough to) want to write?
I’ve been writing since about the age of 9. I was a big fan of Star Trek and loved every moment of it, and my first story was a Star Trek story. Over the years, I kept revising it, as I understood the principles of storytelling more and more. I never did finish that story.

What made me pursue it as a career? Well, in 2000, I tried writing a story that I hope one day to write again. I got about 70 pages into it when my roommates stole my stuff and pawned it. Luckily I had an early copy of the story, but I lost the will to write. Jump to 2012, I tried to get into self-publishing and got one book released before I suffered a brain injury. Seventeen months later was NaNoWriMo 2013, and, on a whim, I decided to do it. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a contest of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. I did it in 14. I decided, even with my disability, I would do everything I could to be an accomplished writer.

What genre of book do you like to write? Any genres you haven’t explored but would like to? Alien erotica, perhaps?
Science Fiction will be and always shall be my first love. My two novels are both sci-fi. However, I want to write every genre I can. Not a big fan of Fantasy or Paranormal, but currently writing one now. Have a few horror novels I want to write. I would do erotica if there wasn’t such a stigma against authors who do erotica. I guess that’s why they invented Pen Names. I’m not a one genre sort of guy, I need to keep my options open.

Describe your writing process. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you wear pants while writing?
For NaNoWriMo 2013, I wrote the novel Karma’s Repentance. It was about a female Bounty Hunter of the future. I had a good design of the characters, and about the first 5 chapters somewhat plotted out. I had no idea of how the story would end, or what happened beyond that. In fact, my first 5 chapters turned into 7 chapters.

My writing process in general is that I get an idea and do the necessary research for it. I then try to think of as many major details I can. Then I design the characters. First I get a general sense of who they are, I then do a tarot spread of them (creating complex secondary characters part one and part two) .I then use 45 Master Characters and assign them a God and role in the book. I then flesh out their background story and write up a report on the major and secondary characters. Lastly, I write a little about their relationships between each other and the main character.

I feel the way I write, I build a build a sandbox, fill it with sand. Get my action figures out (and Barbies. They’re for research purposes… yeah, research purposes). Then I throw obstacles in their way and they tell me how they handle the situation (you’d be amazed how manly Barbie sounds).

When I need a break from writing, I often times act out scenes in my stories to see what they say and what they do. Probably seems like I’m talking to myself. I promise you I’m not.

I’m sure no one wants to hear that I sometimes write in the nude. I don’t think that is appropriate for this interview. Or that when I do wear clothes, I am in boxers and a t-shirt. No one needs that mental image, unless someone finds me sexy, then you’re welcome for that mental image.

What’s your favorite kind of ice cream?
I like a variety of flavors, from cookie dough, to chocolate, to any crazy flavors of Ben and Jerry’s.

If I had to choose just one, I would choose French Vanilla. Some of my friends find that ironic, given how eccentric and weird I am. I simply tell them that Vanilla was once an exotic spice. I guess you can say I’m an exotic spice.

What motivates you to write? Music? Coffee? Tea? Bourbon? Cigarettes?
There was a scene in Karma’s Repentance that involved storming an asteroid base and I got inspired from Robot Chicken’s clip of the rescue, and use that music as inspiration.

Due to my disability, I find it difficult to listen to music while I write. Sometimes I can, somethings I can’t. When I can, I listen to soundtrack music from video games and movies. I tend not to listen to anything with words. I also listen to 2 Steps From Hell.

I don’t drink coffee as it gives me a migraine. I do enjoy black tea, though too much makes me jittery. I occasionally do a Monster Energy Drink to help super charge my mind when my disability becomes too much for me and I have a deadline to keep.

Don’t drink alcohol too often, mostly can’t afford to. When I celebrate though, I will have myself a cigar.

Tell us about your Kickstarter project.

In June of 2012, I suffered a concussion and later got diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome. It is a condition that affects how my brain works. I have memory loss, issues with focus and concentration, light and noise sensitivity, and difficulties in public and new environments. I have been denied for Workers Comp, Long-Term Disability, and Social Security Disability.

Writing is a lifelong passion of mine and I want to make a career out of it. I firmly believe that I can use it to try to get the help I need, and to one day have a somewhat normal life once more. I am doing Kickstarter as a way to pay for five books to be published to help me do that. I am asking for $3000 to get 4 – 5 books published, so I can live my dream of being a full time author and my dream of being healthy again.

Anything else you’d like Wannabe Pride readers to know about you? Any secrets you want to tell us before we find them out on a Google search anyway?
Despite my disability, I am a fun-loving guy. I love helping other writers and created my own coalition of writers for the purpose of being able to help each other out. I am big on education and my blog is dedicated to that. I also have a Worldbuilding series. Right now I am doing Map Making for people who can’t draw.

Chris Votey @authorvotey www.chrisvotey.com chris@chrisvotey.com

Wannabe Pride’s Official Book Recommendations List!

Looking for a great read? Check out these recommended books!

**Wannabe Pride Favorite Selection


**THE BLAKE MISTAKE by I.C. Camilleri


KHAKI=KILLER A Young Adult Paranormal Thriller (The Color of Evil Series) by Connie Corcoran Wilson





Paranormal Romance

**IMMORTAL BLOOD by Magen McMinimy


**CHASING JUSTICE by Danielle Stewart

Male/Male Romance

**COLD by Brandon Shire

**FROM THE ASHES (Naughty Nursery Rhymes) by Kayla Jameth






FONTANA by Joshua Martino

**SECRET THINGS by Robert Thompson

**SAVING LIAM by DP Denman


FURBALL FEVER by Maureen Fisher



**PAINTED FACES by L.H. Cosway


DIGGING DEEP: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages by Boyd Lemon





ONE BOY’S SHADOW by Ross A. McCoubrey


THE RISE OF THE DJALL by Talon Windwalker

SHADOWWATER by Wendy Shreve






WRITE, PUBLISH, REPEAT  (The No-Luck-Required Guide to Publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

MY WAY by David P Perlmutter

**Join my email list for all these book recommendations and writing advice! Contact me at lindafausnet@gmail.com if you have a book you would like me to consider for the list. **

Should I Register My Self-Published Book with the Library of Congress?



It’s only necessarily to register your book with the Library of Congress if you plan for your physical book to appear in libraries. However, it is free to obtain the number so you may want to go ahead and get one just in case.

I confess that I wanted one for my book because it makes it look more official….

The Library of Congress is the National Library of the United States. It is actually the world’s largest library. The Library of Congress does not house every single book published in the United States, but it has an awful lot of them. According to their website, they add over 12,000 new items per day and have 838 miles of shelves! You can take a tour of the three buildings that comprise the Library of Congress and you can look at the books while there but you are not permitted to check out any materials.

The Library of Congress website states it priorities as follows:

First, to make knowledge and creativity available to the U.S. Congress on a continuing basis. Second, to acquire, organize, preserve, secure and sustain for the present and future use of Congress and the nation a comprehensive record of American history and creativity and a universal collection of human knowledge. The library’s third priority is to make its collections maximally accessible to Congress, the government and the public through such means as its website. Its fourth priority is to add interpretive and educational value to the basic resources of the library to highlight the importance of the library to the nation’s well-being and future progress.

The Library of Congress catalog number (LCCN) is the unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book its collection. Technically, the number is for the bibliographic record and not the actual book. Librarians use the number to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record in the national databases and to order catalog cards from the Library of Congress or from other suppliers. There are two different types of control numbers: Cataloging in Publication (CIP) and Preassigned Control Number (PCN). The PCN is simply a LCCN that is assigned pre-publication. The CIP is for books that expected to be widely purchased by and circulated in libraries throughout the nation. The CIP and PCN programs are mutually exclusive. You cannot have both, and most self-published books will fall under the PCN category. Self-published authors and publishing companies who have published fewer than three authors are not eligible for the CIP.

You can apply for one at http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/.your book must be at least 50 pages long to qualify, so many children’s books may not be applicable. The application itself is a two-step process. First, you fill out the online form with the publisher name, contact information, and your ISBN. Second, they will email you a username and password so you can complete the application. It usually takes about 1-2 weeks for the process, depending on their current workload. There is no charge for an LCCN, but you must submit a physical copy of the finished work once it is published. Failure to do so may result in suspension from the program. The books will not be returned.

Send a copy of the book for which a Preassigned Control Number (PCN) to:

Library of Congress
US & Publisher Liaison Division
Cataloging in Publication Program
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C.20540-4283

It is important to note that a Library of Congress catalog number is not a copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office is located on the fourth floor of the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, but obtaining an LCCN does not mean your work has been copyrighted. The copyright can be used as proof of ownership. The LCCN is simply a number assigned to a work that may be included in the collection of books at the library of congress. In order to obtain a copyright, you must contact the copyright office, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and pay the fee.

Inclusion in the Library of Congress Catalog is not automatic following submission, and the library does not provide status updates. However, you can view the database at http://catalog.loc.gov most PCNs are processed within 1-2 weeks.

- Linda Fausnet

Helpful links:

What is a Library of Congress catalog number?

Library of Congress preassigned control number program

What is a Library of Congress Control Number FAQ

**Join my email list for Writing Tips and Book Recommendations! Contact me at lindafausnet@gmail.com if you have a book you would like me to consider for the list. **


How to Start a Writer’s Group

Wannabe Pride welcomes guest blogger Antony Wootten!

Hi there, Wannabe Pride readers! Like many of you, I am a self-published author, and I’d like to tell you about something that I think could benefit all writers. I have to admit, it’s not something everyone will relish, and some will think it’s definitely not for them. But it is something worth immersing yourself in; the impact it has on you may well be unexpected, and most likely will be immeasurably positive if you approach the experience in the right way.

When I was living in London (UK), I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a writers’ group (the Willesden Green Writers’ Group, to be precise. I’m sure they won’t mind me mentioning them!). I already considered myself a writer, although in reality, I was a primary school teacher. I had written several novels, which had been languishing on my computer’s hard drive for years, totally unseen and unknown by the rest of the world. I had no idea that writers’ groups existed, so I was intrigued and excited to join.

The group met every week in the local library. I don’t know how many members there were in total, a great many I think, although they were never all there at the same time. Sometimes more than twenty would turn up, and sometimes it would be less than ten. In each session, we went round the group, taking it in turns to read out a story, poem, section of a novel, or some other piece of writing they had produced. The rest of the group would listen or read (members were advised to bring print-outs so that those who wanted to read at their own pace could do so). Then, the listeners would give feedback on what they had heard.

If you’ve never been to a writers’ group before you might think the whole process sounds nerve-wracking and potentially humiliating. And, to be honest, you may well have to put up with a bit of that. If your fellow writers are just kind and complimentary all the time, you will learn nothing. Even the best writers need to hear the opinions of readers in order to hone their skills and develop their work. But, if you are prepared to listen to what others say about your writing, you will become a better writer, no matter how good you might think you are to begin with.

There’s a caveat to this: in a writers’ group, you will often hear a range of conflicting opinions. My advice is that you listen to everything, and filter it all through your own considered opinions. You are the writer, and the one who ultimately has to make the decision about what works and what doesn’t. Your fellow group members are not there to tell you how to improve your work, they are there to tell you how they think your work could be improved. They will not always be right. They will not always agree. You will not always agree with them. But, whether or not you like what they say, it is vital that you at least consider it. Sometimes, you will hear advice you flatly disagree with. If everyone else disagrees with it too, it’s probably worth discounting. If, however, other people agree with the advice, it’s almost certainly worth bearing it in mind. Sometimes, your fellow members will hit upon something you had completely failed to notice: a plot-hole, a contradiction or continuity error, dialogue that doesn’t sound right, imagery that doesn’t convey what you want it to convey, pacing problems that you hadn’t noticed, humour that fails to amuse, a missed opportunity, a boring bit. Chances are, you will have been too close to your writing to see those things yourself, but they may leap out at other people. That is the beauty of joining a writers’ group.

I remained a staunch member of Willesden Green Writers’ Group for several years, and the experience was immeasurably valuable: I made some fantastic friends; I heard some wonderful stories, novels and poems, and, crucially, I learned how to write. If I had never found that group, I’d have continued to write, without exposing my work to the views of others, blindly believing it to be good, and not realising how much I still had to learn. Worse still, in my naivety, I may even have self-published it, and it would have received embarrassingly terrible reviews! Just thinking about what could have happened makes my toes curl.

So, hopefully you now want to join a writers’ group. But what if there isn’t one near you?

Well, eventually, my life led me away from London, and away from the writers’ group, to the rural climes of Grosmont, North Yorkshire, where my wife and I still live today. In total contrast to London, where we had both lived for well over a decade, Grosmont is a tiny country village, through which a steam railway runs, and if there are twenty people in the local pub no one can quite believe how busy it is. There was no writers’ group here. So, around the town, I put up notices asking if anyone would be interested in joining one. I left my contact details for people to take, and I waited. At first, there was a small glimmer of interest, mostly from people I already knew, and who, really, were just being kind; they were responding to my plea more out of pity than anything else. “Of course,” they all said in one way or another, “I don’t write. But I’ll come along anyway, to see what it’s all about.” I really didn’t think it was going to take off. But, about six writers, as well as some non-writing but interested supporters, came to the first meeting. It was held in the village’s slightly strange and very tiny real ale bar (yes, Grosmont has both a pub and a bar!), against a backdrop of locals chatting over their pints, and some brave folk actually read out pieces they’d written. Some of it was stuff they’d written as teenagers, or an extract from a memoir, or even a magazine article. And, to my enormous surprise (I say that because of the low expectations they’d all led me to have in the build-up), the writing was good!

Over the coming weeks, several new members came along, and one or two original members fell by the wayside. Now, almost two years on, we have a solid core of about nine writers, as well as a few guest members who join us when they are in the area, and we meet every fortnight to listen to each others’ writing and offer our feedback. For a tiny little village like ours, nine regular members is pretty good going. After less than a year, we published a collection of our short stories. This was an incredibly exciting community project – we funded it partially ourselves, but were also given very generous sponsorship by several local businesses and organisations. Initially, we had two hundred paperback copies printed up, all of which we have now sold, and we are working our way through our second print-run. Not only that, but we are likely to publish our second book in the not too distant future! And, despite the initial, very self-deprecatory claims about their own writing abilities, at least six members of the group have written – or are well underway with – a novel, and the others have amassed huge collections of excellent stories. I am blown away by the talent and commitment of this group of writers.

I originally set up the Grosmont Writers’ Group because I wanted a bunch of writers who would be able to offer me advice on my own writing, and who would all benefit from each other’s feedback too. But, just as with the Willesden Green Writers’ Group in London, I’ve found the Grosmont Writers’ Group also provides two other things: a great range of interesting fiction, and a great range of interesting friends.

So, I cannot recommend highly enough the benefits of joining a writers’ group. And if there isn’t one near you, start one yourself!


Antony Wootten writes under two names: his own name, when writing for children, and David Hall, when writing for adults.

As David Hall, he has recently published ‘And I Wish I’d Asked Why’ (currently only on Kindle, but paperback will follow), which Red City Review described as ‘a collection of eighteen amazingly compelling short stories’. He has also written ‘Gordon Medley’s Final Frontier’, which he refers to as a Sci-fi Adventure Space-Opera Comedy Star Trek Parody, a genre which few have tackled previously… Find out more here: www.antonywootten.co.uk/davidhall.html

As Antony Wootten, he has self-published three books for children roughly aged 9-12: ‘A Tiger Too Many’, which is a novel set during the second world war, about a young girl’s desperate crusade to save a tiger in London Zoo; ‘Grown-ups Can’t Be Friends With Dragons’, a novel about an unhappy young boy who meets a strange creature in a cave by the sea; and a collection of limericks, which is called ‘There Was An Old Fellow From Skye’. Find out more here: www.antonywootten.co.uk

Follow Antony on Twitter: @antonywootten

and on Facebook: AWEskdale