Category Archives: Editing

September! Plus some video bits.

In keeping with the new season, it’s a warm day today in the Sydney region—and very much so in sunny Katoomba! 🙂 Let’s open doors and windows, and switch off those heaters (well, today only).

Jenny Mosher is a darling: she’s uploaded shorter videoclips of my 30-minute interview. Here are Jenny and yours truly discussing my sources of inspiration.

FF Jensen on finding inspiration for ‘Bittersweet Symphony’.

And here’s what I call the ‘cruel’ part of the interview: Jenny and I get into ‘killing one’s darlings’.

On feedback, editing and killing my darlings (ouch!).

Enjoy! And of course enjoy the warmer weather, FFJ

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The literary bullshit artist

Sometimes I find myself googling up words for no other reason than the fact that I’m a linguistic nerd. It all started in my childhood, when I’d get my kicks out of reading my dad’s English-Spanish / Spanish-English dictionary. I’d go through pages and pages of words, aimlessly, for no other reason than discovering words I liked, or didn’t like, or to fill some information gap in my brain cells. Earlier than that, I’d got into the habit of looking up just ANYTHING in my dad’s encyclopedias.

In 1996 I got my first Internet connection: 12 hours a month for U$S 150. In spite of the high cost, I continued with my ‘look up’ habits. Since then I haven’t stopped, hehehe! So last Sunday I decided to enter the expression ‘bullshit artist’ into the Google search field. Apart from some dictionary definitions (nice!), I found this article that was really inspiring in more ways than one: 10 Ways To Avoid Being Labeled A Bullshit Artist.  Scott Ginsberg, the author, has dissected the bullshit artist to an extent that my high school zoology teacher would love. Here’s a bullet point list that we should all print out and stick on our office walls. It’s about the fine lines that bullshit artists walk on.

a. In-demand doesn’t mean highly paid – popularity doesn’t necessarily indicate profitability.
b. Passionate doesn’t mean productive – some fires just burn with no purpose.
c. Cool doesn’t mean useful – baseline remarkability isn’t enough.
d. Desirable doesn’t mean satisfying – sustainability is the secret.
e. Activity doesn’t mean accomplishment – there’s a difference between motion and progress.
f. Attention doesn’t mean conversion – web hits are an acronym for “How Idiots Track Sales.”
g. Creativity doesn’t mean innovation – one is a state of being, the other is a practice of action.
h. Dazzling doesn’t mean sustainable – shtick must be supported by substance.
i. Knowledge doesn’t mean wisdom – information is worthless until applied and LIVED.
j. Experience doesn’t mean expertise – only reflection upon that experience does.

Useful, eh?

Now, here comes my two cents to the discussion on bullshit artists, but in this case I’ll be talking about the LBA or literary bullshit artist.

  • The I’m-gonna-write-a-novel-someday bullshit artist: This is the typical person who says ‘I’ve always wanted to write a novel and one of these days I may do it’ as soon as they meet a writer.
  • The Blah-Blah bullshit artist: this chatterbox carries on endlessly about what he/she is writing about, what they’re thinking of writing about, what they could write about, what they would write about, and what they would have loved to write about had they been born in the seventeenth century. They appear to suffer from writer’s blah, in the words of Erin M Fry. If you see this type coming towards you, run for the hills.
  • The I-don’t-give-a-stuff-about-grammar bullshit artist: I had the painful experience of meeting one of them at a writing workshop. He called himself a ‘poet’, but I beg to differ. All his verses were a mishmash, with no rhyme or rhythm to speak of, sprinkled with badly used apostrophes in plural words (his poetry was choc-a-block with breast’s and lip’s). If you’re going to break the (grammar) rules, you may just as well be aware of what the hell it is you’re ‘breaking’.
  • The I-don’t-need-an-editor bullshit artist: Ha! This pedigree type is right up my street. NOT, he! They believe editors ‘stifle your creativity and corrupt your writing’. Their arrogance knows no bounds and turns them into literary laughingstocks. In the current literary climate, this is by far the most common type of LBA. They publish e-books that only their mother could buy (and read).
  • The I-won’t-do-research-for-my-novel bullshit artist: Their work is dangerously based on false premises and believe that doing research is against literary creation. Ha! How can anyone possibly write about, say, an earlier historical period without conducting some basic research on how people lived at the time? Of course, as a writer you’re entitled to indulge in as much fantasy as you like, but if your novel is about the Second World War, make sure your characters don’t send emails to their loved ones on the war front from their latest, state-of-the-art tablets—unless you’re writing some kind of sci-fi fantasy, of course.

You may wonder what in the devil’s name is my rub with LBA’s. For a start, our lifespans are limited. Time is of the essence, and once you waste it, it won’t come back. Besides, some of these people can be toxic attention-seekers. I’ve met a few of them, and they should be managed respectfully, but at a distance, unless you want to write a satirical piece about them, in which case you’ll need to play their game for a while. Last but not least, LBA’s don’t add anything to our experience, either as human beings or as writers. Once you get stuck with their Fifty Shades (or more) of Bullshit, they squeeze the life out of you.

Literary Bullshit Artists suck!

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In The Hot Seat With FF Jensen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHhTacgSSb4

Finally, after an impeccable post-production, here’s the 30 minute interview: Jenny Mosher, in The Hot Seat With FF Jensen.

(imagine a drum roll here :-))

I would wish to thank Jenny, Ally, Sarah and Josh for the opportunity ‘to burn my arse off’ in The Hot Seat. Mind you, I’d do that again any day!

Get yourselves a glass of red or white, or any other drink of your preference and enjoy. Catcha later, FF 🙂

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Indie-land, Chapter I: the self-publishing process

Interestingly, after writers finish writing a book, a few processes take place that we indiefolks  have to foot the bill for—literally.  Writers that go through traditional publishers (and don’t end up in the dreaded, so-called slush pile) don’t have to, because the publisher takes care of the editing, marketing, PR, social media, etc.

It isn’t my intention to get into the subject of royalties here, but I can roughly say that the difference between what indiefolks and traditionally published authors receive is considerable.  The big trade-off here is that indie = full control of everything, including royalties.

You can find plenty of great websites that explain the nuts and bolts of going it on your own, with bells and whistles. There are also excellent self-published manuals on the subject. In this case, I’ll just limit myself to writing about the steps I had to takeThe first one, the most important one, the unavoidable one:

WRITING A BOOK 🙂

Sorry about the all-caps, but you get my drift. Writing a book is no picnic. I know because I’ve done it myself. Don’t pay attention to those that tell you that so many people write and that your ‘baby’ will get lost in the Amazon jungle (hehe!) or that Your Words Will Be Smashed, or any other crap like that. You’ve done it and it takes gumption and guts. It takes massive doses of creativity, of course, but I know many creative people that start lots of different things at the same time and end up achieving nothing.

Once the book has been written, you’ll need an editor. My first choice of editor took me to a dead end. I suspect she probably didn’t want to edit an opera prima written by a nobody who hasn’t got a PhD in English or anything like that—and who writes explicit sex scenes to boot. In any case, I happened to be working on WordWatcher’s website and I wondered, Why not him? I’ve already discussed my very successful experience with him in a previous post.

I already knew about IndieMosh and their publishing packages. At the beginning I only considered e-publishing, but I wanted to make sure that I opened more markets for myself, and not everybody has an e-reader (or likes them, for that matter). So after doing my math, I decided to get a combo package (e-publishing and print on demand). 

Here comes a very interesting bit: I’m a trained graphic and web designer, so I designed my covers, did the layout and supplied all the finished artwork to publish ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. My partner is a professional pro and took a nice pic of me. At the same time, I wrote several blurbs for different purposes: the Amazon site, Smashwords, One Thousand Words Plus, etc. You need different numbers of words depending on the platform, so I wrote a basic blurb and ‘tweaked’ it to suit different platforms. After that…

IndieMosh's congratulations card
IndieMosh’s congratulations card

I started developing this website and set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account. FF Jensen became part of the social media jungle all right!

The next steps:

  • The launch (to take place on May 19).
  • A Google + page.
  • Facebook advertising ? We shall see…
  • Pinterest… I don’t think so. My craft is literature, so I’d probably pass that one up.
  • Press releases and press contacts: I will explore the chances of publishing articles in Australian magazines and websites.
  • Participating on a TV show? That could be a good one…
  • Serendipity…
  • All of this while I continue writing my short story collection, Bedroom Short Stories For Discerning Adults. Those over 18, stay tuned: there will be a ‘freebie’ coming your way soon!

As I write this post, I have come to the conclusion that creating the FF Jensen brand is as much fun as being a writer—and probably every bit as creative!

Once I finish this post, I’ll take a peep of the wonderful landscape rolling by, from the Blue Mountains train. Catcha later, FFJ

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An editor isn’t a guardian angel, but it comes quite close…

Today I happened to be reading a few blogs on how us—the indie crowd—are destroying the joint. I can only feel pity for those bloggers, for many different reasons that are irrelevant to this post. All the same, I’ll come back to ‘indie-haters’ in the near future. Stay tuned!

Good writers, indie or not, would be committing structural, grammatical and stylistic suicide if they don’t employ a reputable editor. Repeat after me: good writers, indie or not, would be committing structural, grammatical and stylistic suicide if they don’t employ a reputable editor. I had the serendipitous fortune of becoming WordWatcher‘s graphic and web designer, and took the wise decision of discussing my novel with him. The watchful eyes of Paul Mattingly had a good look at the first two chapters of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and gave me detailed feedback using track changes and comments that I could either accept or reject. ‘This is how I work,’ he said. He also uses specialist software, as well as his in-depth editing and proofreading knowledge.

Paul gave me a very detailed proposal of what his services would consist of: a project plan with specific stages, the timeframe, the exclusions and inclusions, plus the fees and payment schedule. We only needed to sign on the dotted line and start working! 🙂

I would have never imagined that having my novel edited and proofread would be such a wonderful learning experience! Not only did Paul not kill my darlings, but helped me turn them into better ones! His feedback was detailed and precise, and for someone like me, prone to flights of fancy, easy to follow. I’m happy to recommend Paul to all and sundry, and I look forward to more WordWatching in the near future!

Right now I look forward to dinner. I’m ravenous! Catcha later, FFJ

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