Red Flag Companies

016I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post about this, but at this point I’m very frustrated and thought I could help someone by sharing this information.

Recently, I started to get e-mails and phone calls from some mysterious company called “Next Century Publishing.” This bothered me because they claimed I had requested information about publishing a book with them, and I’m sure I never did. Upon looking at their website I realized that they were a vanity press, a publisher who requires payment to publish someone’s work. These types of publishers are surrounded by author horror stories and I would never choose to use such a company.

A big red flag about this is the fact that the website does not list a single price range for any service. I find that extremely sketchy. Any company that can’t be honest about prices is concerning to me.

Then there’s the e-mail issue. I chose to respond to one of the e-mails (because it said I could “reply to schedule a consultation time”) and ask to no longer be contacted. The e-mail immediately bounced back. The error message claimed that the “user does not exist.” Another huge red flag.

Plus, I have no idea how these people got my phone number. E-mail I can understand, but not my phone number.

And, on top of everything, they are now sending me messages about “Next Century Speakers” or something like that about becoming a public speaker. What?

My suggestion? Avoid this company. Their methods are very concerning.

Updates

I wanted to apologize for being absent for a week. Unfortunately I learned that I’m being laid off from my “real job” at the end of this month, so I’ve been spending every spare moment hunting for a new one. Writing doesn’t quite cover all the bills yet.

But! I would like to share the cover for the upcoming Anderson Stables book, By Fault. Still no release date yet, but I’ll let you know when there is one.

By Fault_FINAL_no_bleed

New Projects and Updates

The update is that I am now on to the final round of edits for Book 3. Yay!

I know I mentioned that I started working on another book that is not part of the Anderson Stables series. Basically, I’m getting the bare bones down before the characters get pissed at me and run away. The plan is to have it ready to go after the last Anderson Stables book.

It is, of course, also horse themed. You can see a glimpse of what it’s about in this really cool video. Sadly, these characters don’t compete during the course of the story (they work behind the scenes – one on carriages and one on breeding horses), but it’s something I want to write more about. Someday, I’ll have some competitive drivers to share!

The sport in the video is known as combined driving. It’s essentially the sport of eventing, but with carriages. In eventing there are three events that horse and rider pairs compete in: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. Scores are combined over the course of the event, and the winner determined at the end of the final phase. In combined driving, the events are dressage, marathon, and cones.

In combined driving, the dressage is more or less the same, except with a larger arena and different required moves. The concept is still the same: do the correct thing at the correct place in the arena, and do it really nicely.

Cross country involves galloping along an outdoor course and navigating jump complexes. In the marathon phase of driving, the only difference is the lack of jumps. Instead, there are obstacles that need to be maneuvered in a certain order, which involve a lot of turning and navigating.

The jumps in show jumping are typically replaced by cones, with the object being to get through the course without knocking a ball off the cones, similar to knocking a rail from a jump.

This is, of course, not the only way to compete in carriage driving, but it’s the part of the sport that has seen international growth and promotion, and is included in the World Equestrian Games.

So I’ll leave you with a neat compilation video I found. Mainly I’m adding it because this is the show that happens near my hometown every year. It shows that there are a lot of things to do in carriage driving.

Still Here!

IMG_3043I’m still here, still working on stories. Got the second round of edits done for Book 3 of Anderson Stables this past week.

But now I have some new characters demanding my attention. I’m hoping to get their story really quickly and roughly written over the next few weeks, despite working overtime at “the real job.” It’s a book that I won’t even think of publishing until Anderson Stables is done, but I just need to get these characters out of my head now, before I go crazy.

So, since I’ve got a new duo to write about, I thought I’d show you guys my super sophisticated outlining process. I’ve tried using typed or handwritten outlines that follow a list design, and I’ve tried using software that makes timelines. I’ve even tried using real calendars or printed tables that look like calendars.

But the thing I have found that I always go back to is the method in the picture. I use graph paper to make a calendar of the duration of the plot. This keeps my plot confined to a few months instead of a few years (each book in a series gets its own outline). Then I use letters to place major scenes. Sometimes I use all 26 letters and add some lowercase ones, sometimes I don’t use all 26. These are just the major scenes, and I list them along the side (I took the picture before filling it in so no one can be curious about the highly undeveloped story yet). Seeing where those scenes are in the plot helps me formulate minor scenes that may or may not get letter placements. Letting the characters and plot move at their own pace and create scenes between the major ones is what keeps the process fun. There is always the “and what happens in the meantime” question that leads to more creativity.

I also feel like doing it by hand helps my brain stay in the creative mindset for some reason. Maybe because it’s almost like drawing and designing.

So now you know the secret to my outlining!

Music Monday

This week’s song doesn’t have a story attached. I just heard it somewhere and I liked it.

Mumford & Sons – “Babel”

Adventures in Authorland

11892049_811909688906776_7563319516146177509_nAfter a stressful few days at the “real job” I finally managed to get my edits done for Book 3. But it was not easy.

I came home from work Tuesday night to learn that the upstairs rooms of my house had no electricity. Upstairs is where I have my desktop. My desktop is where I saved the manuscript for Book 3 that I was making changes to.

Luckily, I have a laptop and the electricity worked downstairs. So I spent all day Wednesday working on the manuscript. Because I had to start over.

And I was working around the electrician’s needs.

Everything is finally back in working order. For now. Who knows what could happen next. Nothing can ever be easy, that’s for sure.

Oh, and I paid Gibbs in Milk-Bones to do my editing for me when I had to leave the computer.

Music Monday

Funny story about this song. For some reason, when I heard this song, it stuck with me as one to listen to while writing the scenes of Anderson Stables that take place at horse shows. It was, and still is, a “competition song” in my mind. Then, after listening to it about a hundred times, I actually paid attention to the lyrics and came to what should not have been such a sudden realization: “This song is about sex.”

It’s still wired into my brain as a competition scene song and I doubt that will change.

Maroon 5 – “Animals”