Revising and Rewriting Your Manuscript – the Last Checklist You’ll Ever Need (until you find a better one)


Yes, you have to revise your manuscript. Many, many, many times. You can either accept that fact of life now or you can:

A. Send out (or self-publish) your first badly written, error-filled, dreck of a first draft and watch the bad reviews/rejection letters pour in and/or listen to the sound of crickets when professionals in the industry won’t even bother to dignify your hack of a manuscript with a response.

B. Give up now, deciding that becoming a fry cook on Venus would probably be easier than this whole writing thing.

If you’re still reading, that means you’re willing to do what it takes to be a real writer.
Hear it, learn it, live it.
Though hashing out a first draft of a novel is hard work, rewriting is truly what makes you a REAL writer. It separates you from the hacks. Anybody can write down a story, slap on a title, and rush to try to sell it. You’re better than that. You’re serious about your craft.
First drafts are often awful. That goes for New York Times bestselling authors and people who are just starting out. Rewriting is what makes any piece of writing great. No exceptions.
On the plus side, if you love writing, rewriting really can be fun. Stop rolling your eyes and making snarky comments. I promise, it’s not like when your math teacher told you that math can be fun. I don’t care if she did bring a pizza into class that one day. Fractions still suck. This is different. It’s really very rewarding to see your work get better and better. If you love your characters, think of rewriting as getting a chance to spend more time with them. Though going over each sentence, each paragraph, and each word a bunch of times can be exhausting, it’s a great feeling when you finally get it right. Trimming paragraphs, carefully selecting the right word, and developing that perfect line of dialogue will tighten your work and turn a rough draft into a piece of really great writing.
Do the work. It’s worth the effort.
If this sounds like too much work, do it anyway. If you still hate it, you can always quit writing and do the fry cook thing. The one thing you CAN’T do is get out of rewriting and revising your manuscript numerous times if you want to make it as a writer. Lots of wannabe writers choose to stay in denial about this fact for years before they finally give in to the truth and realize that, no matter how carefully they outline their story and characters ahead of time, rewriting is crucial to success as a writer. Lots of writers waste years of their precious time denying the necessity of rewriting their work. You’ll be way ahead of the curve if you skip those years and get right to work.
I said GET TO WORK!!
Checklist for Revising
** Wait at least two weeks after you finish a draft before you start revising.
** Read the whole novel from start to finish and record your gut reaction. Don’t censor yourself and try to be as honest as possible. Were there parts that bored you? Did a character get on your nerves or not seem fully fleshed out? Note what you think needs to be fixed but don’t try to fix it yet. Just jot down notes and keep reading.
** The next step is macro edits. You need to fix the big things. This can include fixing things in the plot that don’t make sense or are just not believable, strengthening the characters, and cutting parts of the novel that are redundant or just unnecessary. It helps to have a specific goal in mind for each rewrite. For example, for this first rewrite the goal is to strengthen the main character’s motivation. The next draft might be to fortify a specific relationship between two friends or maybe the goal is to add more suspense. The final revisions should be the ones where you really focus in on specific details like grammar and punctuation.
** Did you jump into the story right away or did you begin with lengthy description or boring exposition?
** Does your opening scene begin with a problem for the protagonist? Does it open *with* the protagonist? The story should almost always begin with the main character.
** Do we know what your characters are after and why? Remember that the more a character wants something, the more compelling the story will be.
** If at all possible, provide at least a hint of what is to come in the opening even if you can’t reveal the whole problem just yet.
** Cut out anything that doesn’t move the story forward or reveal character.
** Be sure to clearly describe your characters so your reader can see what you see. A few concrete details are better than a lengthy description.
** Remember that action can usually reveal character better than a physical description. When the phone rings, does the character rush to answer it or does he roll his eyes and ignore it? Little actions can say a lot about a person.
** Did you set the scene so the reader knows where the action is taking place?
** Reveal setting through the character’s eyes and viewpoint (whoever’s POV you are writing in).
** Be sure that important events in the story are revealed in a scene. A scene means people in action. You don’t want to gloss over the good stuff by simply telling us about it. Conflict is the heart of a good story and scenes are the only way to elicit an emotional response from the reader.
** The characters should enter the scene with a goal, struggle for it, and then end up either achieving little or none of it. Otherwise, why should we keep reading?
** Save most of the backstory, exposition, and character thought for the “sequel”, which follows the scene.
** Are you going too easy on your characters? Make it difficult for them to get anything they want.
** Make sure each chapter ends with something to keep the reader turning the pages.
** The POV you chose should be clear and consistent throughout.
** With first person, try to sneak in some kind of physical description, though it can be tricky.
** If you chose Third Person POV, where you pick one character’s viewpoint, be sure you only show what this character sees, hears, feels, and knows.
** Multiple POV allows you to reveal action that doesn’t always take place within sight of the main character and enables the reader to experience the emotions of more than just one character. Be sure to make it clear when you are switching to another character’s POV, either by adding multiple spaces or starting a new chapter.
** Omniscient POV is when the writer sees and knows all and therefore can show the thoughts and feelings of all the characters. Be sure to be clear about whose consciousness you are in at any given time. Be wary of too much “head-hopping” when the POV changes too rapidly, which can be annoying and difficult to follow for the reader.
** With the Objective POV, you can only show what can be observed from the outside. Instead of she felt angry and bitter when her Cheetos got stolen, it would be she looked angry or she grabbed her Cheetos back and slammed the door . Objective POV is extremely limiting, but can be useful for stories in which revealing a lot of thought and emotion would give away the plot.
** Read dialogue out loud to make sure it sounds authentic and true to the character. Omit boring pleasantries and unnecessary chatter. Get to the good stuff, the conflict.
** Use said as your dialogue tag about 95% of the time, preferably before the character’s name. People rarely say things like said she in real life and words like grunted, hollered, and muttered can be distracting and unnecessary. Also, people can’t laugh and talk at the same time. Instead of she laughed, write she said, laughing.
** Be sure to use dialogue tags frequently enough so the reader is clear on who is talking.
Style and Language
** Limit adjectives – one is usually stronger than two or three. Sometimes none is the right number.
** Watch for adverbs, especially those ending in “ly”. She angrily and forcefully grabbed the umpire is not as strong as she grabbed the umpireor she grabbed the umpire with great force. Use adverbs sparsely.
**Choose a strong, specific noun or verb instead of several weaker ones. Consider the difference between the word ran and the words sprinted,dashed, darted, and fled. Make each word count.
** Active voice is usually best.  Watch for passive voice words like was,were, here, there, and that. There were two drunk guys building a pillow fort vs. Two drunk guys built a pillow fort.
** Keep an eye out for words that you tend to overuse. Do a search to find them and weed them out.
** Omit redundancies like screamed out loud or quickly dashed.
**Watch for “weasel” words that are unnecessary. These include words like about, actually, almost, basically, just, here, there, really, practically, simply, suddenly, utterly. Consider the difference between:When they finally arrived there, it was already too late. She had already gotten a tattoo of a unicorn vomiting a rainbow is not as good as When they arrived, it was too late. She had gotten the tattoo of a unicorn vomiting a rainbow.
** Avoid “filter” words that seek only to distance your reader from your character’s experiences. These include words like: see, hear, think, wonder, realize, watch, seem, feel or feel like, decide, sound or sound like. He felt hot and looked down. He realized his underwear was on fire.  Heat burned his face and he looked down. His underwear was on fire.
** Seek and destroy long passages of boring description.
** Don’t overuse the past perfect verb tense, as in would  or had. When writing a paragraph in this tense, begin in the past perfect : Right before his father had become a drag queen in Vegas, Robert would have long talks with him  when they would go to the mall to buy high heels, then switch to past tense – They mainly talked about makeup and glitter instead of continuing in the past perfect: They had talked mainly about makeup and glitter…
** Make each sentence as strong as possible, keeping in mind that the end is the most powerful part. “I’m leaving you for my chemistry professor,” he said as he put down his rapidly melting lab beaker is not as powerful as He put down his rapidly melting lab beaker and said, “I’m leaving you for my chemistry professor.”
**  Avoid overwriting. Trust that the reader is at least as intelligent as you are.  They will be able to figure out what you are trying to say without hitting them over the head with it.
** Reading out loud is the best way to hear the rhythm of the sentences.“The Phelps family sounded like bigoted idiots” might look okay but try saying it out loud. “The Phelps family sounded like ignorant bigots”sounds much better. At any rate, both sentences are true…
Grammar and Punctuation
** Carefully proofreading for typos and grammatical errors should usually be one of the final steps in revision. There’s no sense in spending a long time perfecting a paragraph only to cut the whole thing out later.
** Use a Comma:
– To separate items in a series: She gathered her baseball,her glove, and her dose of steroids.
– With a small conjunction, such as and, but, for, nor, yet, so, to connect two independent clauses, as in She liked the guy, but she kicked him in the head with her cleats.
– For introductory elements, such as Before joining the circus, he worked as a stock broker.
– With parentheticals (a parenthetical could be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence) He put on his floppy shoes, which were completely unnecessary, for his prostate exam.
– When both the city and the state name are mentioned together, it is considered a parenthetical element. We saw the Orioles kick some major Yankee posterior in Baltimore, Maryland, last summer.
** Use a Semicolon:
– To separate two main clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction.  Those in glass houses who throw stones don’t need windows; those in stone houses who throw glass do need shoes.
– To separate main clauses joined by a conjunctive adverb, such ashowever, consequently, otherwise, moreover, nevertheless. Many people think it is necessary to go to college; however, it’s not so if your dream is work at Chuck E. Cheese.
** Use a Colon:
– For a summary or a series after a complete main clause: They were a ragtag team of misfits: a circus clown, a stock broker, an angry female baseball player, and a guy from Chuck E. Cheese.
** Use a Dash (–)
– For a short summary after a complete main clause: At the bottom of the backpack was a surprise—used chewing gum.
– In place of a pair of commas to set off words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence with additional–but not vital–information: Of all the well-known Muppets—Miss Piggy, Scooter, Rowlf, Fozzie—great as they were, Kermit made the most money.
Fine, Have It Your Own Way
This revision list was compiled from a bunch of different books and websites and I find it helpful for my revisions. If you’ve got a better way that works for you – go for it! Just make sure you rewrite and revise as many times as it takes to make your writing as good as it can be. Otherwise, brush up on your short order cook skills.

-Linda Fausnet


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You MUST Write Every Day! Unless You Can’t….



Most how-to books, blogs, and writer gurus tell you that you absolutely MUST write every single day or you’ll never amount to anything as a writer. After all, practice really does make perfect.

Yeah, well, there’s no such thing as perfect, no matter how much you practice. While I agree that the most efficient way to become a great writer is to write as much as possible and to get your work critiqued so you can figure out how to improve, sometimes a little thing called life gets in the way.

I do write every single workday and I write on as many nights and weekends as I can. I rarely have a problem getting motivated and I write even when I’m not motivated. I get up between 5am and 5:30 every day to ensure that I get, at the very least, one hour of writing in every single day.  One rule of mine is that I write for one hour Monday through Friday – pretty much no matter what. My other rule is that I never HAVE to write on evenings and weekends unless I want to. Well, the truth of the matter is, I almost ALWAYS want to, but stuff like homework and kids and dishes and laundry get in the way to the point where I will get overwhelmed quickly if I write every night instead of taking care of those other things.

I almost never have a problem writing. I have a problem STOPPING. The hour between 6:30am and 7:30am seems to be the fastest of the whole day. It’s almost painful for me when I have to stop doing what I love after only one hour so I can spend the next 8 hours doing someone else’s bidding at my day job.


I understand that not all writers feel this way. Many, many writers – GOOD writers – have trouble getting started or feeling motivated to write. This is normal and completely understandable. For sure, you will have to force yourself to write on a very regular basis if you want to have a chance at truly making it as a successful writer, but is not writing daily going to spell the end of your career before it begins?

Not necessarily.

There are two important factors that may determine how often you write:

How serious are you really about pursuing writing as a career?

How much time do you actually have available to write?

The answers for me are – I’m EXTREMELY serious and driven when it comes to my writing career and I don’t have a ton of time available, but I carve it out wherever and whenever I possibly can and this includes a firm daily writing schedule.

There are really a number of factors to consider when it comes to the time and energy that you choose to devote to writing. Do you want to self-publish and/or submit to agents as many books as you possibly can?  Or are you trying to finish one book just to see what happens? Are you writing a memoir for personal reasons – to tell your own story – but you don’t plan on making writing a career?  Are you independently wealthy or do you work a 40-hour work week? Are you single or are you married with three kids? Are you caring for an elderly parent or do you suffer from a disability that makes it more difficult for you to find the time and energy to write? Do you fit in three hours of television watching a day? Are you in school and studying for finals?

Each writer’s career trajectory is different and to make blanket statements that you MUST write every day or you’re a terrible writer and just don’t care about writing seems unfair to me.

Figure out what you really want to do and make a plan to do it. Life can legitimately get in the way sometimes, and it’s okay to give writing a break when you feel totally overwhelmed. If you’ve decided that you really want to write a book, all you have to do is just one thing.


In two months or two years – even in two decades. It’s all up to you.

- Linda Fausnet


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The Stages of Self-Publishing

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.

A self-published author is a small business owner, it’s true. Some of us will be non-profits, making church cookbooks or maybe a family history, but the rest of us want to sell our work to anyone who cares to read it. This post is geared toward the second group, though the non-profit folks could benefit from it too, I hope. As usual, I am going to use myself as an example throughout the piece.

I am a small business, manufacturing a product. The stages of writing a novel aren’t so different from the stages of a new product launch.

I start with R&D – plotting, researching, basically the knowledge phase, trying to figure out what I want the story to be. For example, with my first novel I knew I wanted to have a teenage boy living in a haunted hotel, and there had to be a girl. Not a lot of detail, just the plot in broad strokes.

Then comes the trial run, my first draft. I have the shell of the story with a few details sprinkled here and there. While writing a first draft I am learning what the story is. I think it’s common for these first two phases to overlap for many writers. For me they can overlap to the point of almost occurring in tandem. (My current book is happening this way. I decided one afternoon to write a YA novel from the POV of a 14 year old girl who is into nerd things. That’s not even a plot! I am a little over 10,000 words into the manuscript now and have a much better idea where I’m going.)

Phase three is product testing. Do you find yourself grinning like an idiot when you read your manuscript for the first time? I know I do! That first read is my favorite part of the writing process. It’s during the initial read-through that the story crystallizes in my mind; I can see what needs to go, change, or be added. Editing is the second part of the phase. Love it or hate it, it’s a necessity.

After editing I think very highly of my product, but what will others think? Let’s find out. I give my manuscript to four or five people to read, find mistakes, and get their opinion. Then more editing! Oh the joys of rereading my work five or six times, going blind during the predawn hours in an endless search for my shortcomings and oversights.

Phase five, mass production begins. Let’s launch this bitch! Remember all the hours you poured into your novel? They don’t mean Jack if you’re not going to make an effort to sell it.

Marketing a self-published novel can be a real pain in the ass, no two ways about it. I began by selling copies to family and friends. I have a hunch a great many authors begin their careers in the same fashion.

I’ve had the best luck selling books in person versus online. Aside from a few paperback orders when I first released it and a scattering of ebook sales, the internet hasn’t been the best marketplace for me. Part of the reason is I am asking $4.99 for my ebook and there are a ton of ebooks available from $2.99 – free. Why pay more, right? And what the hell is the matter with me asking almost double for my work?

The answer involves both strategy and not a small amount of ego. First, I refuse to devalue my work to compete with other self-published authors. The way I see it I am not in competition with only self-publishers, I am in competition with everyone. From Disney, to Random House, to Viking, to Comet Press, to Linda Fausnet herself, and whoever is reading this right now; we’re all competing for a share of the same book money. So I set my ebook price in a competitive range for the entire field of competition, not just the indie world.

Second, I am willing to work my butt off to sell my book (even at its seemingly elevated price) because that’s precisely what a traditional publisher would expect me to do. I need to be able to prove to a publisher or agent that my work can sell at an average retail price. If it won’t sell, then I need to either get better or find a new obsession. (Like that would be possible!)

My best sales day, by far, was a book signing I did in my old hometown. I’d ordered 60 copies specifically for the event and sold around 40 of them. Not to worry, there were people who couldn’t make it or completely forgot but still wanted a copy, so they are mostly gone now. The remainder will be put towards my newest venture.

The town I live in has a program for local authors that is run by the neighborhood fine arts council. For a percentage, the FAC will sell the author’s book in their gift shop. It’s a 75/25 split, with the 75% going to the author.  I’m excited for the opportunity.

I stated above that the internet hasn’t been a productive marketplace for me. While that’s true it has been the best sales tool I have at my disposal. In particular, I’ve used Facebook to sell my book. I take a personal approach, send someone I know but don’t see often a message like, “Hey! Been a long time. How’s things?” They usually respond and ask how I’m doing, and ker-boom; I mention that I just wrote a book.

That brings me to my last point. I think it’s important to have these kinds of conversations. They’re good for building a strong and loyal customer base. I talk to as many people as I can about my book with multiple hopes. One is that they’ll buy a copy, obviously. But if the book doesn’t sound like something they’d enjoy, maybe they’ll tell a friend who’s into creepy novels. My plan is to bring a pack of rabidly loyal fans to whichever agent or publisher agrees to take me on as an author.

Kendall Bailey

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Twitter – @KBaileyWriter
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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



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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 Can’t wait to see you.


Jocelyn Crawley

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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

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, 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



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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 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

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Twitter – @KBaileyWriter
Goodreads Author Page


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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…



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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




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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