Saturday, December 29, 2012

Writing Tips from Author Zane

1. Do a search for the word JUST. In 98% of the instances, the word should be deleted altogether. In another 1%, another word would be a better fit, such as MERELY, ONLY, SIMPLY, etc. In the last 1%, the word JUST actually makes sense. I have seen the word JUST in some books up to a dozen times on a single page and that is ridiculous.

2. When you use the terms Mom and Dad in dialogue, or if a character is referencing their mother or father, please capitalize them. I realize that sounds elementary but it took me 30 minutes to correct that problem alone.

3. The word BECAUSE is overused in most books. Most of the time the two thoughts need to be in two separate sentences.

4. I THINK, I KNOW, and I KNOW are overused as well. It is common sense that the person thinks or knows something and it makes the writing seem convoluted with unnecessary words.

5. Please make sure that within your dialogue, there is a comma between a statement and a character's name. For example: "I don't care what you say, Darlene." You would be surprised how many seasoned writers still do not know that.

6. Also, please do not write: "You are crazy," she laughed. A character cannot laugh out words, giggle out words, smirk out words, or chuckle out words. It should be two separate things. "You are crazy." She laughed.

7. Speaking of laughing, please do not fill up an entire page with back and forth dialogue that ends with HE LAUGHED, I LAUGHED, HE LAUGHED AGAIN, and I LAUGHED SOME MORE. Once you establish the tone of the conversation, being repetitive only irritates the reader.

8. If you are going to use a proper name, the name of a store, the name of a historical figure, the name of a song or album, or the name of liquor, PLEASE take two seconds out to Google it and make sure that you are spelling it correctly. I am amazed at how many writers will toss things in a book and not even confirm the spelling.

9. The word SAID is used way too much with the back and forth of I SAID, HE SAID, SHE SAID, etc. Instead of using that, include some descriptive movement. Even if you use descriptive movement, delete the SAID. For example, instead of "You never understand me," she said, sitting down on the sofa, you can write "You never understand me." She sat down on the sofa.

10. Make sure that increase your vocabulary instead of using the same catch phrases over and over again. In Word, you can easily highlight a word and click on synonyms to find an alternate suggestion.

11. Do not have all of your characters sound exactly alike. Pretend like you are in a room with several people and realize that they would not all be sitting there sounding exactly alike.

12. One of the most time-consuming issues is the misuse of tenses by a writer. I have seen writers go from past tense to present tense in the same sentence. Pick a tense that you are comfortable writing and stick to it.

13. When a character references a particular event or conversation, make sure that they would be privy to knowing the information. For example, Tom cannot describe what his wife and mother were discussing in the kitchen while he was outside taking out the trash.

14. Keep a separate character file, if you need to, that references all of the personal information or traits of each character. Make sure that they drive the same car in Chapter 5 that they were driving in Chapter 2 and that they have the same color eyes and hair throughout the book.

15. Make sure that the spelling of character names remains consistent. I have seen one character with his name spelled four different ways in the same manuscript.

16. Most importantly, take pride in your work and read it over, word for word (out loud if it helps) before you send it to an editor, an agent, a publisher, or heaven forbid, self-publish it.

I hope that this helps. The amount of time spent by editors cleaning up these BASIC mistakes is unbelievable. As the industry continues to change, both publishers and readers will become more selective on what they select to spend their time on. Why should someone dedicate their time to read or to fix a book if the writer did not care enough about their own work to spend extra time on it to make sure it was right? Do not place yourself out of the game before you even get started.

What is Traditional Publishing?

A traditional publisher hires editors who read your MS, which you send to them. They receive thousands of MSs each week. It may take up to 2 years before they get around to reading yours. After they read it, they either reject it or accept it. If they accept it, you well be sent a contact (and often with a recommendation that you go over the contract with your literary agent/lawyer before you sign it). Once you sign the contract and send it back, than the publisher's lawyer checks it to be certain that all is in order (and done legally). The publisher is given a "temporary copyright" allowing them to print and distribute your book to the public. In most cases, you still own the copyright, but while the book is in print from the publisher, you can't do anything with it until it goes out of print.

They hire an editor/typesetter to type set and spell check your MS. Cuts and additions are not unusual at this point. You the author have no control over this, and it is not unusual for an author to read the finished book and ask: "When the hell did I write this?" or "Where is that chapter I wrote on....?" Next they hire an artist to create the cover art. You the author has no control over this either. Finally, they distribute the book to bookstores worldwide. You never own them a cent. They pay you royalties. Some also pay with advances. Most do 100% of the marketing and promotion, as well. You the author are free to sit back and relax, while the publisher does the work, leaving you with plenty of time to write your next book. Something Self-published and Vanity Press authors can only dream of, while they are rushing about writing press releases, and hunting down places to sell their book.

What Is Self Publishing?

A self publisher, is an author who gets a business license, buys the ISBN #s, hires a printing press (print shop/printer) to print the books, than sells the books themselves. The author keeps 100% of the profits, because no one pays royalties; you keep 100% of the copyright. You market the book and distribute the book yourself through local bookstores, a personal Website, your blog, and on online bookstores such as Amazon.com.

Self-Publishing gets it's name from the fact that the author does everything themselves.

The author gets their book printed up in two common ways:

1) They hire a local or online print shop to print up the book all at once. Most printers require a 5,000-copy minimum, with cash up front, though it is common, for printers to require a minimum of 20,000 copies. Printing up your books in this manner, unfortunately requires the author to have a very large sum of money all at once. If you choose this method, be sure you have taken into account the cost of printing the book, which for most writers is rarely under $30,000 and often more than $200,000, and this money has to be paid to the printer BEFORE they will print up your book.

2.) The other method is to hire a print-on-demand printer. These may or may-not ask for money up front, depending on how they run their business. To find out more about print-on-demand, simply scroll down to the POD section of this article.

It should be noted, that regardless of the method you use to have your book printed, you are the publisher. The company that printed your book up, is just a printer and only a printer, never are they considered the publisher.

What is a writer? How Does a writer become an author?

A writer, simply put is one who writes. Everyone who writes on a regular basis is considered a writer whether or not they have ever been published.

Writers can mean those who write for newspapers or those who write fiction, those who write for medical journals, or those who write TV sitcom scripts. They all write. They all get Writer's Block. What is a writer?

A writer is someone who writes, probably every day or nearly so. Usually they feel compelled to write, as though they have no control over it. It is as though they will die if they cannot write something down. Their every fiber burns with the sensation, the uncontrollable passion, that they must put words to paper in order to survive. They feel every emotion their characters feel: the love, the pain, the horror, the fear, the anxiety, and the lust for adventure. They not only feel their characters, they become their characters. Everything in life sparks a new story idea. They awake at night from their sleep to jot down in notebooks. They are obsessed with the fever that is coming known as writing. That is a writer.

An author however, is generally perceived as a writer who has been published. For some writers, it is enough that they write, publishing their work is not their goal. For most writers, however, the goal is to become a published author. The trick is being published.

IMPORTANT info for first-time self-publishers!

Many self-publishers are also first-time publishers with little or no knowledge of the laws regarding copyrights, ISBN, EAN, and other such things. All those online sites can confuse those new to publishing. Problem is, many sites offering, "advise" to new self-publishers are run by scam artists seeking to make a quick profit and leave you hanging. How can you avoid being caught in their snares?

1.) NEVER pay money to buy a copyright! If you wrote the book, you own the copyright.

2.) NEVER buy an ISBN from anyone other than ISBN.org themselves! They are the ONLY ones who can assign your book an ISBN.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in God, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hardest Working African-American Woman in America

I'm so proud of my friend Tequila we've been friends since the 6th grade, it's an honor to watch her grow for a pig tailed 6th grader to an outstanding career woman, mother and wife. She was picked by Essence magazine as the "Hardest African-American Woman in America" Check out the January 2013 issue to read about my life long friend.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


For the month of December download: THAT'S HOW I LIKE IT!, DANGEROUSLY and BLOOD BROTHERS for $.99 eBOOK ONLY (NOOK AND KINDLE)


For the month of December download: THAT'S HOW I LIKE IT!, DANGEROUSLY and BLOOD BROTHERS for $.99 eBOOK ONLY (NOOK AND KINDLE)


For the month of December download: THAT'S HOW I LIKE IT!, DANGEROUSLY and BLOOD BROTHERS for $.99 eBOOK ONLY (NOOK AND KINDLE)