Storm of Divine Light: About the Cover and Book Design

Do you like the cover and interior book design for Storm of Divine Light? I have to give credit where the true credit is due, namely, Creative Publishing Book Design. Before my first contact with Creative Publishing Book Design, I have to admit to having reservations. Too often I’ve read warnings from others about the vultures out there looking to scam a quick buck from unsuspecting Indie Authors.

Stormcover7blogAfter my first phone call, I was very impressed. They were quick and patient with me, but they also worked with me. I cannot overstate the importance of working with me. Instead of making me choose from some prefabricated generic covers, they looked at my initial sketches and built everything from that starting point. They even requested three chapters to develop a design that reflected the mood of the book.

Communication is a key factor

There were many emails, phone calls, and text messages. I must say, their answers were quick and accurate as were their attention to details and small adjustments. For example, I did not like the eyes of the figure on the cover. I thought, because the MC is a rogue, there should be an air of mystery about him. Within hours, the team at Creative Publishing Book Design made the adjustment.

The Results Were Worth the Money

I have some print editions from Indie Authors, and unfortunately, some of those books look like they belong in the “minor leagues”. The cover combined with the stunning interior make Storm of Divine Light (use the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon) into a professional looking book, as if it was plucked from the shelf of a major book dealer.

I will contract them again for the next novel in my fantasy series, M & M: The Tales of Tyrennia: Book II. Why? Because I was treated like a valued client.

Have you ever contracted for covers and design? Got a horror story or an endorsement to share?

Don’t Go – Comment Below!

Are You Cluttered?

I’m not referring to the boxes of useless stuff nestled in your garage or overburdening your precious closet space. Nor am I hinting to the shelves crammed with books, looking as if they are fighting each other for an inch of space. Clutter is simply professional ‘newspeak’. William Zinsser and George Carlin noticed the trend and commented upon this phenomenon. Chapter two of Zinsser’s wonderful book, “On Writing Well” is dedicated to word clutter.WWZ

Clutter serves as a sad commentary about the state of language in our modern world. If you want to hear some examples, look no further than any politician, corporation, magazines, or advertising ploy. Here’s a sample about cluttered Airline language from the late, great George Carlin.


“Clutter words create confusing sentences, which become unclear paragraphs, which then grow into puzzling pages, and in the end, complete a most baffling book.” –Ernesto San Giacomo


At this moment, At this point in time, At this very second, Now, you may be thinking, “I’m an author, not some hired mouthpiece.” True, but these subtle bastardizations of language permeate us. Our minds have been absorbing this material for years. As a consequence, clutter may seep into your writing. See what I’ve crossed out in favor of the word ‘now’?

Therefore, be wary of tall skyscrapers, large giants, small dwarves, and tiny ants. I found one such example last week. I saw a promo on Twitter for a new Sci-Fi novel. As usual, I clicked the link and checked out the book using the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ feature. Within the second sentence of the prologue, the author mentioned the “…ill-lit darkness…” Oh well. 😦

Make sure to be aware of clutter while you’re writing, or at least while you’re editing.

Here’s some common clutter examples.

Have you noticed such redundancy in your own writing or in the writings of others?

My New Stray Cat

We have a new addition to our household, Moogie. Most Star Trek fans, especially those who lean toward Deep Space Nine, will recognize the name as the mother of Quark and Rom. Moogie was a stray cat, but now we have given her a home. I’ll take the opportunity on this #caturday to tell you all about her.

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The first time we saw Moogie, she was scratching at our back door. Although we knew she wanted a home, we were reluctant because of our newborn, Frankie. I searched the town’s Facebook page. Most people with lost and found pets post there, but I saw nothing about this cat. Then I took pictures of her, posted them, and received no response.

Talk About a Guilt Trip

Months ago, as I prepared the nursery for an impending visit from The Stork, I painted a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi, surrounded by animal silhouettes. I finished off St. Francis with a rabbit, a bird, and a cat. Two days later, there was Moogie.

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I kept feeding her most days because some days she was nowhere to be found. Every time I’d walk into the nursery and see St. Francis with the cat, my guilt trip got worse. After a few months of failing to find a home for her, my wife and I decided to keep her. After all, we were already feeding her.

Off to the Vet

The first problem was our cat carriers. They were too small for this rather large kitty. I purchased a carrier for a small dog and Moogie fit without a problem. I took her to the vet and he checked her out for feline leukemia and other communicable diseases. Because her long hair was matted, they gave her a bath and shaved her.

How Did the Other Cats Behave? Is the Fur Flying?

So far, only Phoenix and Luna have accepted Moogie. Despite the initial hissing contests, the cats eat together and have even tried to play with Moogie. Minnie, on the other hand, is reacting differently. She can be a very jealous cat. Minnie follows me around from room to room, always has to jump on my lap, or get into anything that has my attention.

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Check Out Ernesto’s Amazon Author Page and Put Some Short Stories On Your Kindle. Just Click The Pic And Go Straight To Amazon! ->

 

And Now?

Moogie and the other cats have settled into a routine. Our four-feline brood eats and plays nicely together. The transition has been smoother than expected. It is possible that the other cats were already accustomed to her because of her extended stay under our deck.

Got a stray cat story to tell? Or just a good one about your domestic kitty?

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

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The Great Indie Author Twitter Challenge

I’ve seen some blogs and articles posted over the last few months that have referred to eBooks by Indie Authors as complete crap. Indie Author stigma is alive and well in the blogosphere and within the pages of The Huffington Compost. One blogger classified 98% of the eBooks written by Indie Authors as crap (her word, not mine). Can any of these opinions be true? Or are these negative purveyors just out for a “late-night-troll”?

In response to these naysayers, I’ve decided to offer myself a small challenge. Perhaps you may care to indulge in this experiment yourself.

Step1: Go into Twitter and start scrolling. Stop at the first eBook promo Tweet that has an Amazon link. Usually the Tweet is from the Indie-Author him/herself.

Step2: Follow the link and use the “Look Inside” feature.

Step 3: Jot down what you thought of preview.

Step 4: Go back to Twitter and keep scrolling until you find another eBook promo.

** I took a glance at 25 eBooks using the “Look Inside” feature. **

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The Results of the Twitter Challenge

In the final analysis, I did not find 98% crap, nor would I say that Indie Authored eBooks are an insult to the written word. Yes, I saw some stylistic problems. I have learned much about editing in the past few years, and can zero things down to three basic errors or should I say non-refinements. They are 1) Echoing Headwords 2) Weak opening line and/or paragraph 3) Overusing forms of “to be.” However, some readers probably wouldn’t spot those problems. They purchased a bargain book and were entertained.

For those of us who have published a few items and have spent hundreds of hours in critique circles; we know crap when we see it. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and wonder if I should give some people the benefit of the doubt. May be their definition of “crap” differs from mine.

Here are a few examples of my criteria for assessing the quality of an eBook with an excrement expression.

The writing is unreadable and unintelligible. If I see an endless stream of poor grammar, spelling errors, punctuation errors, p.o.v. shifting, or incomplete sentences, then I’ll agree it is crap. I can name a few more sins, but I think you get the picture.

Different “Yardsticks”?

There is no difference between 1 inch and 2.54 centimeters. The difference is the markings on the ruler. It is my belief that the insulters and naysayers are driven by one of two possibilities. Either they are paid trolls acting upon the behest of publishers*, or they are “setting the bar too high.”

*I am by no means a conspiracy theorist. However, I am all too aware of the dirty campaigns waged by different factions of certain industries. For example, the war between Edison’s DC vs. Tesla’s AC in the court of public opinion comes to mind.

The Relay Race Analogy

When I say “setting the bar too high,” I am not talking about giving everyone an award or a trophy for participating or a drastic lowering of standards. Rather, imagine a relay race between two teams of runners. Except, one team got food poisoning just 5 minutes before the race, and only one member of the sick team didn’t fall ill. Instead of quitting, the lone runner ran the whole race that was meant for five different athletes. And, he didn’t make it easy for the other team. He gave them a proverbial “run for their money.”

Even though he lost the race, is there any among you who wouldn’t give that runner a standing ovation?

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Well, that’s the difference between an eBook from an Indie Author and Traditionally published book. Too often, an Indie Author is simply one person doing the work of many hands. Therefore, when I say “setting the bar too high,” I mean passing judgment while not appreciating the lopsided nature of the comparison.

Indie Authors should not attempt to produce an end product as good as a traditionally published book. We should strive to be better.

DSC00166Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t Cry

Star Trek Turns 50 (Part II)

Tomorrow is September 8th and therefore, I must watch a few Star Trek episodes. The trouble is which ones to select. The original pilot episode “The Cage” is an obvious choice and a must view on this very special anniversary. Others include “The Trouble with Tribbles” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

***Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Star Trek Captain!***

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I’m also considering the episodes “Darmok” and “The Offspring” from Star Trek: The Next Generation

A great Voyager episode would be “Tinker, Tailor, Doctor, Spy.”

How about “Trials and Tribble-ations” from Deep Space 9?

As for Star Trek: Enterprise, “Carbon Creek” or “The Xindi” or “North Star,” are wonderful episodes as well.

***Visit Ernesto’s Amazon Page and Choose an awesome short story***

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What are your choices? Did I pass on one of your favorite episodes? Perhaps I should add more episodes and turn this September 8th into a four day #StarTrek weekend?

***Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Star Trek Captain!***

 

Star Trek Turns 50 (Part I)

They call me Mr. Trekkie, because I own the DVD collection for every Star Trek Series and Movies. Yes, I was an avid fan when the original series aired back in the 60’s. Of course, I was a bit too young to understand all of the serious complexities and themes being fleshed out. However, in the 70’s I grew up and appreciated the show even more during re-runs.

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Tastes change over time and I readily (and quite eagerly) accepted the new paradigms of The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, and Enterprise. Sometimes, other sci-fi adventures got the better of my attention like Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica (original and 2.0). I’m not apologizing for drifting into alternate sci-fi future universes. After all, they were well made too. Perhaps that makes me Mr. Geeky, but I don’t care. There’s nothing like curling up with a snack and an awesome show for a top notch Science Fiction experience.

Here’s a poll (and it has nothing to do with Trump or Hillary)

Who is your favorite Star Trek Captain? Psst I don’t want to influence anyone. I’ll reveal my choice after the votes are cast.

 

***Visit Ernesto’s Amazon Page and read an awesome story. Live Long and Prosper***

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Hooked by Les Edgerton

I’m somewhat selective when it comes to craft books. Sometimes I feel like most Indie-Authors spend more time reading craft books on writing than they do writing. And let’s not forget about the money spent. As for self-help books for authors, I have a scant but awesome collection. I usually spend a lot of time reading blogs, taking notice of titles mentioned, and then taking aim for that special book.

My first chapter was bugging me. After we (The Queen and I) would edit about eight chapters, we’d discover something new and start all over again. Well, I can comfortably say that now I feel as if we’ve finally “got it.” Yes, the “Queen” and I were doing an awesome job, but we were still treating the first chapter like any other…big mistake, and thank God we had the intuition not to publish.

I took one of Kristen Lamb’s on-line seminars concerning “Your First Five Pages.” As I look back upon the seminar, it was very informative and helpful. Later, she made a blog post about first chapters and recommended “Hooked” by Les Edgerton.

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Like a vigilant and eager student, I clicked over to Amazon and purchased Edgerton’s “Hooked,” and a copy Kristen Lamb’s “Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a digital world” (still reading this one).

After reading “Hooked,” everything that Kristen explained during the seminar became crystal clear. I guess I needed time to absorb at my own pace. After all, I haven’t been a student for a millennium or two…well maybe three. O.k. you can stop laughing at me now. 🙂

Within Hooked by Les Edgerton, the “crafty” author-coach will explain to you the importance of an opening line, the first page, the first plot points, and yes, how they all coagulate into a rockin’ first chapter. Also, how to introduce a character, and the incredibly sticky subject concerning backstory, i.e., when to use it and when to avoid it.

On another note, Edgerton delivers with a style that keeps you reading and entertained. It would seem that he took his own advice.:-) Let’s face it; this subject in the wrong hands could turn drier than dust faster than a teenager can answer a text-message. But with Edgerton, the read is smooth sailing.

I can give “Hooked” by Les Edgerton a hearty and well-deserved recommendation. Also, you should check out Kristen Lamb’s blog and take one of her classes too.

What are some of your favorite writing-craft books?

What Is the World’s Favorite Past time?

You’re about to be incredibly surprised. I bet most of you were thinking about Soccer or Baseball?

Well…it’s not a sport. Rather, it’s Big Lie #Anti-Catholicism.

Let’s face facts, if anyone spouts a big steaming pile of B.S. and nonsense concerning The Church, the PC crowd, you know who I mean, the so-called self-proclaimed Guardians of tolerance and justice will give you a rousing applause and compliment your bravery.

One doesn’t have to dig deep to find these ridiculous posts of bile-spewing ignorance and hatred. They are very prominent and readily available on Twitter, Facebook, and of course You Tube.

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I understand that there will always be “lunatic-fringe” groups on any subject. However, whenever I stumble upon one of those aforementioned “lunatic-fringe” posts and see that it has over 100,000 views and page after page of supportive commentary from netizens around the world, it turns my stomach and I completely lose my faith in humanity.

Perhaps I’ll do a future blog post called “Character Assassination” to demonstrate how the system of misinformation operates. This scheme is engaged not only to destroy individual Catholics like Pope Pius XII, but also the Church as a whole.

Of course I’m NOT talking about those who have some type of disagreement with a particular Doctrine of The Church. That’s someone who has done research, and has reached a conclusion. I have respect for them, although I can still disagree with them, because I can draw a different conclusion from the same evidence.

What I’m talking about are headlines / video presentations like…

“Proof: Pope Performs Satanic Rituals” or “Pope Kills Babies in Vatican Basement.”

Isn’t it sad? Remember, over 100,000+ views with supporting commentary. I will not provide a link, because I’m not in the business of giving these loons some free advertising.

Yet, if a man named Muhammed shouts “Allahu akbar” just before detonating a suicide vest and killing a crowd of people, these are some of the same individuals who will shout “Islamophobe,” if anyone dares to utter the words “Radical Islam.” Go figure?

I usually enjoy a double scoop of ice cream, but double standards are very difficult to swallow.

It must be plainly obvious that this subject is close to my heart. Naturally, it has surfaced in one of my short stories called “The Mystical Body” in the forthcoming collection “Liberty Is Dead: Six Mind-Numbing Tales.”

***Visit Ernesto’s Author Page on AMAZON***

P.S. >>> After writing this post, I searched for a portrait of Pope Francis. There were many to choose from and I think I made a pretty good choice. However, some were memes with scripture concerning The Beast from “The Book of Revelations.” Will it ever end?

When Authors Break the “Rules”

I think I’ve actually got a handle on most of the rules of writing. I’m not talking about punctuation, grammar, plot, character building, or anything in that venue.  What I am talking about are the finer polishing points that turn my pages from talking to singing.

My latest editing discovery concerned “echoing headwords” for lack of a better term coined by the writing website Immerse or Die. In other words, repeating consecutive sentences with the same first word or more than one paragraph per page doing the same.

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Spring has been a busy time for me and I have not done as much reading, writing, and editing as I should have. Therefore, now that I feel like I’ve got this whole “rule” thing clear in my head, I’ve decided to sit down re-read one of my favorite books. After all, isn’t that a piece of advice you see all over author blogs? Good writers read a lot. This re-reading would of course be a different experience, because I have new eyes.

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I am not going to name the book or the author, and I am not offering this as a form of criticism. It is simply a moment when you throw your hands up and roll your eyes and say, “Just when I thought it was safe to read again.”

I lounged back in my favorite recliner and opened the book. Alas, everything that I have learned about “echoing headwords,” overuse of “to be,” and naming too many people and places in the first chapter, was completely ignored by the author.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Probably something like, “Well you know, once an author is an established thoroughbred, s/he can break all the rules they want to break.” Cough…gag

Did I happen to mention that this great book (and a major seller) was the author’s first book?

I put the book down and went for another one from my trusted overcrowded shelves. Another first book from another famous author that flaunted all of the rules again!

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What’s a little-ole-self-pubbing-indie to do?

Well…perhaps I should offer those rule breakers some admiration.

Thus far, applying some of these tried and true methods has improved the quality of my writing, and I am quite happy and contented with the results. If someone else wants to throw some rules out the window…let them. I have no problems with another author nestled in their “comfy zone,” as long as their formula is working well for them and their readers.

Despite my confusion, I’ll maintain a “live and let live” attitude.

How do you feel about those who not only break a few rules, but do it well?

***Visit Ernesto San Giacomo’s Amazon Author Page and check out a short story for your e-reader today! Choose one or all – Night Flights – Stasis – Ragged Souls – Gematria²***

 

Anaphora Paragraphing?

 

A dictionary definition of “Anaphora” would state, the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive verses, clauses, or paragraphs.

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and on the streets, we shall fight in the hills.” – Winston Churchill

“This blessed plot, this Earth, this realm, this England.” – William Shakespeare

From the above examples, you can see how this technique is used for a heightened dramatic effect.


Try to refrain from over using anaphora as well. In “Storm of Divine Light,” I properly used the technique twice in 376 pages.

Excerpt: Patrons never suspected the humble servant Dagorat once had another name. A name he had tried to bury; an infamous name which struck terror into the hearts of travelers and merchants alike. Blackmond Moonshadow, the most notorious rogue who ever wreaked havoc upon the distant Kingdom of Easterly.



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The word “paragraph” in the definition poses a bit of a problem. Other language / writing guru’s like Hofmann referred to the paragraph as a natural barrier to anaphora. Creativity Hacker refers to starting paragraphs with the same word whether consecutively or just too often as “Echoing Headwords.” This concept seems to apply to both paragraphs and consecutive sentences.

Let’s say that your MC is named Lisa. Imagine the paragraphs on one page starting as follows.

Lisa grabbed…

Lisa looked…

She stepped on…

The dog barked…

Lisa hurried….

She opened…

Lisa went…

*Psst…I know that most of the sentence starters above seem like an assault of declarative sentences, but that is the subject for another blog post.

As you can see, beginning paragraphs with repeated words just doesn’t work very well. Unlike adverbs, where the usage rate is one for every five to seven pages, I couldn’t find the acceptable rate of repetition concerning echoing headwords.

It would be quite a daunting task to complete a novel with every paragraph starting with a different word. I went back into some drafts to find a rate of repetition in my own #writing. I found that you can repeat the start of a paragraph every other page, or at least eight to ten paragraphs apart, as long as they are not on the same page.

As for sentences, try not to use the same “headword” consecutively or bunched too close together.

Have you found evidence of this faux pas in some of your drafts?

***Check out Ernesto San Giacomo’s author page at AMAZON and choose a title today!***