Even if you’re not currently an author, you’ve probably heard the term “Mary Sue”. It’s a name given to flat, one-dimensional female characters who are so well-rounded and flawless that they just don’t appear human. Sometimes these characters fall into certain cliches or tropes that make the audience collectively groan. You may also have heard the male iteration of this, “Gary Stu”.
The fact is, whilst we all have a secret dream of being the Mary Sue at some point in our lives, writing one into your novel is hands down going to make your novel terrible.
Here is a great example of what a typical Mary Sue character might be like.
She is eighteen years old.
Long brown (or black) hair that seems to frizz and do whatever it wants, she has an unremarkable body boys never look at. She has, against all genetic reasoning, stormy grey eyes.
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This week, Mercury in Retrograde is on sale on Amazon for only .99c!
Given that I’m nearly done with the sequel, I’d say now is a perfect time to buy! Get your copy now, so it can meet all of your other TBRs and make friends.
This is the letter that I have sent to Jeff Bezos regarding the problems with KU Book Stuffers, Scammers, and thieves. Take from it what you will.
Dear Mr. Bezos,
I am Suzan Tisdale. I began my self-publishing career in December of 2011. Within a year of releasing my first three novels, I was able to give up my day job. As a self-published, indie author, I made in one month what would have taken me a year to earn at my regular, 9-5 day job. I was a KDP Select Princess and constantly extolled the virtues of the KDP Select Program. Nothing and no one could get me out of it.
Then you launched KU 1.0, and my income dropped 90% in the first month of its inception. With that inception came the scammers. And those scammers have only become more brazen and prevalent, as time has passed…
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Every bookworm knows the feeling. “I’m just going to relax a little and read my book before bed” turns into “Why is it light outside? What time is it? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?”
There are a few qualities that combine into a magical mix that keeps us stuck to the page. Great characters, embroiled deeply in plenty of complications and stuck behind insurmountable obstacles. Wonderful prose, although if the premise is good enough just “good” writing is plenty good enough to keep us hooked.
Here is an assortment of books from many genres that combine all of these qualities into something that readers just couldn’t put down. Anyone of them might give you an accidental all-night reading session. You have been warned.
*Book descriptions come from Goodreads*
1. The Illuminae Series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This series is completely unique! The format is brilliant (yes, the story is told…
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“How are you out of prison?” she asked.
Aralyn figured she knew, but wanted the confirmation regardless. She looked around the room and found Riordan, Caden, and Kita all bound to her left, against a bank of computers in the cockpit. They had been gagged and their hands were tied behind their backs. On the console above them sat Aralyn’s shotgun, while Josiah, Dolph, and the cannibal carried their other weapons. Only she had been tied onto the crude metal chair. She supposed it was for interrogation purposes.
“Well, no thanks to you, that’s for certain.” Josiah ran a hand through his dirty hair. “Luckily for us though, Proctor saw fit to give me the vengeance I was hoping for, and even let me assemble a team of my own people. You know he cleared our sentences for this? That spook must really hate you.”
“You were a trafficker—that’s a minimum life sentence,” Aralyn whispered, trying her best to keep her head and not vomit. She had to focus on a way out. With the cannibal girl behind her, she couldn’t finagle her hands out of the ties, so she had to scope out the room. Maybe get them distracted. She checked her boot, wriggled her foot around. Her feet were free, and she could just barely make out the feel of her switchblade by her right ankle.
“Yeah, and Dolph here? He killed about two dozen women on various planets and moons over several years, but he’s free, too. Like I said, that spook hates your guts if he’s willing to release us just to find you.” Josiah smiled.
“What makes you think he’ll keep his promise? Won’t he just catch you when you go to turn me in?” she prodded, aware of Dolph cracking his knuckles, eager to start the physical stuff again. She couldn’t take another blow like that. Who knew what kind of cranial bleeding she’d have.
“That’s the beauty of this deal,” Josiah said.
Aralyn found herself determining the inner workings of their group. Josiah was the mouthpiece, and Dolph performed the unseemly violence. Cannibal junkie probably worked security, answered to Josiah directly. Not an incredibly smart team, but one with enough of a dynamic to be dangerous.
“What? He arrange to make you rich in everything you guys want? You get orachal trafficking, Dolph gets women to abuse and murder, and Bicuspid back there gets an all-you-can-eat human buffet?” Aralyn asked, trying to keep her voice light and unconcerned.
“What’d you call me?” the girl demanded, coming forward, fists at her sides. “I ain’t bicuspid.”
Aralyn rolled her eyes.
“Something like that,” Josiah said.
I will enjoy wiping that smug smile off his face.
Get your copy of Mercury in Retrograde today!
Do only introverts love reading? Spending hours, alone, with a book, does seem to be the perfect activity for someone who is satisfied spending a day with me, myself, and I. The cliché is that all bookworms are introverts, and, like all stereotypes, it’s not really true.
Sure, lots of dedicated readers are introverts. But the main fact the stereotype forgets is that all readers are human, and humans come in infinite variety. There are plenty of extroverts who love the written word, and lots of ambiverts either hanging out with them or chilling on their own.
Do you have the traits of an extrovert bookworm? An introvert? Or a combination, depending on the day and the book? Read on to decide which traits are yours.
- Feel recharged after a long period spent with a good book.
- Feel the sense of being a part of the collective human experience…
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If you’re like me, you like to sit down and read as frequently as possible. But sometimes there just isn’t enough time to read a book, or you’ve only got a few minutes, whether it’s on your commute or you’re just trying to kill time on your phone in the bathroom.
(Don’t lie. We all do it.)
Enter the short story, the perfect platform for enjoying another world when you just don’t have the time to spare. Right now, you can get two of my shorts on Amazon for only .99c!
Looking for a story you can read in about 15 minutes that will make you think?
Donovan’s earliest memory is of the soldier who saved him as a boy.
Now a soldier himself, he’s eager to get into the fight against the rebels.
But when something strange happens during what should be a routine firefight, he finds himself questioning everything he knows to be true.
Or how about a creepy ghost story to read in the dark?
For siblings Amelia and Nick, getting sent away to live in a Victorian foster home is scary, but they hold on to the hope that it will all just be temporary. They soon learn that sharing a room with six other children and working from dawn ’til dusk are the least of their problems, however.
The matron doesn’t care about them at all, as long as they’re quiet and out of sight, but the other children warn that breaking a rule—no matter how small—will have dire consequences.
Nick might believe in their ghostly tales of Mother Maggie, but Amelia knows that it’s all just nonsense; at least that’s what she tells herself. But as the shadows in the house begin to move and grow and their situation becomes more severe, she begins to worry that maybe there’s more to the ghost stories after all. Something sinister lurking in the halls of their new home seems to watch their every step, waiting…
If anyone else would like to link to their favorite short stories on Amazon in the comments below, please share!
Anyone in the small and indie book-publishing community knows how hard it can be as a new or small author to get your name and your series off the ground. No matter how good your book is, one of the most important skills you need to learn as an author isn’t “how to write better,” although that one tops the list, most definitely.
No, it’s actually “how to create a brand and market yourself.”
And since authors are a notoriously introverted bunch who don’t do so well with being forced to tell other people how great they should think we are and to please buy our books, this can be problematic, to say the least.
For those who visit cons, attend writers’ groups and conferences, you typically learn that the writing community is full of wonderful, supportive people who love their fellow authors and encourage aspiring writers. Really.
In general, the indie market is filled with these awesome authors. So it came as a surprise to everyone when authors started complaining about getting letters threatening legal action against them because their books had the word “cocky” in the title.
Author Faleena Hopkins, a woman who will now go down in infamy, recently started sending cease & desist letters to any other romance author with the word “cocky” in their book’s title, demanding that they change the title immediately because she had copyrighted the word. Yes. She actually went and got a copyright on the word “cocky,” all in an attempt to have the word solely associated with her “Cocker Brothers” series of romance novels. And the first thing she did was go and threaten other authors—even those whose books were published before her trademark—with legal action if they didn’t remove any instances of the word from their titles.
In a way, it seems like a brilliant move. But there’s a reason that people don’t get to copyright common words or phrases and charge money every time someone says it.
It’s a simple case of Faleena misunderstanding what her copyright is actually for. And now that she’s unanimously become the face of evil that indie authors everywhere are uniting against, it’s important to know why Hopkins will lose every court case, no questions asked.
Copyrighting is one of those things that many people don’t think about. Intellectual property (IP) rules can sometimes be confusing, but when it comes to ownership, possession is, as they say nine-tenths of the law. When it’s a totally new idea or concept, that is. So just how was Faleena Hopkins able to copyright a word that’s been around for hundreds of years?
Hopkins did go and get two copyrights regarding the word cocky, it’s true. However, her first copyright was strictly in the use of “a series of downloadable e-books in the field of romance”—not for any and all usage of the word. And that was only in a “particular stylized form of the word,” which she also had the copyright for. However, therein also lies the problem.
When you copyright a word, like “Apple” did for computers, you have to show that your usage of the word is specific, unique, and unlike the common word. This is the reason that Apple got the copyright for computers and software, but you don’t have to pay $19.99 for every apple you buy from the Apple store.
In Faleena’s case, her first copyright was for the word “cocky” in a romance e-book series, in a stylized form. It only covers that single, particular use. Which means that other authors are not infringing on her use of it unless they copy it exactly, in stylized form, in romance novels. Someone could literally write a book of any genre, name it “Cocky,” and have a block-letter form of the word and they still wouldn’t be infringing on her copyright in the slightest.
The second issue is the stylized form of the word itself, which Faleena Hopkins did actually get a copyright on… Even though she doesn’t own the rights to the font that she copyrighted, which will immediately null any copyright she filed.
Someone took the time to track down the font that she used and find out where it came from. The artist’s website says specifically that no one may copyright a word with their font, since the font is already trademarked to the artist, and is only licensed to the user.
So Faleena’s entire argument for trying to steal royalties from other authors is moot. She didn’t have permission to copyright to begin with. And now, not only does she have thousands of indie authors up in arms against her, but the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is even speaking to the ones that Hopkins threatened in order to bring an IP suit against her.
So yes, #Cockygate may sound really stupid, but there’s an important lesson to learn from it:
There’s nothing wrong with trying to protect a brand that you’ve created, but trying to screw other authors out of doing the same and threatening to steal their money isn’t the way to do it.
And also, before you send out cease and desist letters, you should probably make sure that you understand copyrights and have permission to use them to begin with.
Follow #CockyGate and #ByeFaleena (my new favorite tag) on Twitter for more amazing responses to this ridiculous scandal.
And now for a fun announcement!
For those of you who are diehard Robert Jordan fans (or even those who read him a while back and just fondly remember the books), there’s nothing more fun than hanging out with like-minded people and having a good time… And clearly someone thought this sounded like a good idea, and set out to create the awesome adventure that is the annual celebration of JordanCon, a fantasy and literature convention created in honor of the late author himself.
JordanCon is a celebratory convention held in Atlanta, GA, and this will be my first time attending, so I’m definitely excited. This year, I’ll be joining several guest authors to do panels and share information on the writing and publishing industry (along with whatever helpful advice I might have!) all weekend long from April 20-22!
There are going to be some truly excellent panels available, merchandise booths, and chances to win epic prizes and even support charitable events that donate the proceeds to Mayo Clinic. So if you’ll be in the Metro Atlanta area that weekend, definitely make sure you have your ticket and come by and see me for a chance to win a free signed copy of my book and have a great time.