Five Links 8/23/19 Loleta Abi


Five Links 8/23/19

Loleta Abi


1. “The latest trend in online marketing is building a “personal relationship” with customers and readers. Sending newsy emails about your fab summer vacation isn’t enough anymore. Now you have to ask them about their fab summer vacations.

This is supposed to let readers know you really care about them.

Does it?

Speaking as a reader, that would be a…not so much.

I read lots of books. Do I want all those authors clogging my inbox, trying to be my BFF? Nope. Not even if it’s Margaret Atwood. If she really cares about me, she’ll write another book, not have a virtual assistant send me a faux-friendly email.” I have seen a few emails like this, and I try and avoid sites that bug for my info. Even recipe sites can be like this with all the annoying pop-ups to join their newsletter. I already have but I’m seriously thinking of quitting them. I don’t mind once in a while asking, but it becomes annoying when you visit and instantly get bombarded with allowing notifications or not.

2. “I’ve just finished a developmental edit and, as always, I enjoyed how it refreshed my appreciation of storytelling essentials.

I thought I’d share them here in case they’re useful.

Back story…

Don’t make back story about the past. Let back story tell us about the characters in the present. Their attitudes, aspirations, aversions, aptitudes… Also, remember back story is only half the equation. The other half is how it affected that individual.” I’ve learned about backstory being conveyed through dialogue in my work and about correcting that.

3. “Can a story have too much plot?

It might surprise you (especially if you’re a regular reader of the site), but the answer is absolutely, yes.

Implicit in the question of too much plot is the idea that a story should have more of something else. Usually that something else is character. This is where we find the well-entrenched battleground of “plot vs. character.”

It’s unfortunate these two crucial ingredients of story are often presented as exclusive opposites—bitter rivals who can barely stand each other—because the discussion at the heart of “plot vs. character” is much more nuanced. As you probably know if you’ve spent any time on the site, I dislike the whole structure of the “plot vs. character” discussion. Too often, it’s presented as a simplistic either/or paradigm that demands a the clear winner: either plot or character must be the undisputed Monarch of Story.”

4. “If you’re just starting out in the indie/small press world, there are lots of things you’ll discover by trial and error. Even if you’ve been at it for a few years or more, it’s a constantly shifting landscape that’s often difficult to navigate, particularly without the proper tools at your disposal. Trends and platforms change so quickly it’s entirely possible this post may be out of date in a few months.

This is going to be a long and in-depth post because I want to cover as much of what I currently know about indie publishing as I can. Most of it is nuts-and-bolts stuff that may not be interesting if you’re not intending to be an indie author, though if you’re the type of reader who likes to know how the sausages are made, you’re welcome to stay and watch me fill these intestines with meat.

I’m no expert, not by a longshot. But I have picked up quite a few things since first publishing in 2013. I’m giving away all of my “secrets” here. Some of it may be “no-brainers.” But hopefully this will prevent you from stumbling in the dark for years as I did.”

5. “Until recently, the only time I was fired from a job was when I worked for a department store, drilling the holes in bowling balls. Apparently, you can’t put the holes just anywhere.

Since becoming a literary agent, however, I have been “fired” a few times—not by He Who Knows All and Pulls the Strings—but by clients. In each case, actually, we reached a mutual decision; but that’s probably because I’m such a nice guy.

So, rather than talking in general terms about agents (who can be as different from each other as apples and oranges, night and day, clichés and nonclichés), I thought I’d offer a little advice on when to fire me as your agent. Not that any of my current clients would do such a thing (and you know who you are!).”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “Pema Chodron’s story has stuck with me for a decade: At a meditation retreat, the guy sitting near her kept making an annoying clicking sound. Again and again, she was jolted from her practice because he kept clicking his tongue.

During the break, as she gathered up her courage to tell him that he was ruining the day for her and for everyone else, she realized that in fact, it was a nearby radiator that was causing the clicking.

Suddenly, the fact that it was an inanimate object changed everything for her.”


3. “A few weeks ago I reached out to my fellow bloggers about freelance editor recommendations and, although I got some great names and assistance (thanks!), it made me realize just how little I know about the process of hiring an independent editor to help with the development and revision of a novel. Up till now I have relied on my beta readers and my agent to get feedback during the drafting/revision process prior to submission, so I faced a bit of a dilemma when my agent and I realized that additional changes were still needed to one of my novels but that both of us were now too close to the material to know the best way to proceed. An independent editor seemed the obvious solution – but, after my agent lucked out with her contacts (all of which were over committed already), I said I’d try and identify additional options. It was at this point that I realized just how little I knew about the process…and how hard it was to identify the ‘right fit’ when it came to freelance editorial services. Not only did many seem super expensive, few I initially identified seemed to really align with what I needed. This was where I appreciated getting personal recommendations (again, thanks!) but hiring an editor still seems like a daunting task (especially given the potential fees involved!)…so I thought, why not open it to the TKZ community to see what their experiences have been…:)” My recommendation came from a cp partner and friend who researched different editors for me.

4. “Ten years ago I was newly married, living in a new city, sans kids, and alone a LOT as the hubs was starting a new business. My community existed of my husband, a betta fish named Albie, and a hyper puppy named Trogdor the Burninator.

I turned to writing. 

In the past ten years, my writing has turned from a hobby to a career, led to starting a creatively driven business, and most important of all, opened the floodgate to a tribe of friends that I am eternally grateful for.

Writing does not have to be lonely. 

In fact, it’s much better when it’s not. “

5. “When I was growing up, my zealously frugal parents refused to buy anything from a bookstore, insisting that the local library had whatever it was we could possibly want to read. Faced with a small child’s intensive lobbying for repeated storytelling sessions with a lavishly illustrated picture book, my father would borrow one from the library and photocopy it. I still remember how anything colorful on the page (i.e. everything) would get transformed into dark blobs, the toner blurring the text and smudging my fingers.”

Some Things More Serious:

1. “When it comes to true crime, Mark Twain was right: Truth is stranger than fiction. But it’s also more dangerous, and real-life horror stories don’t only spread fear—they can also spread rumors, often making it difficult to discern fact from fabrication.

Take Lizzie Borden, who killed her parents with around 10 whacks each, instead of the 40 depicted in the morbid children’s rhyme. The real Amityville Horror was Robert DeFeo Jr., who killed his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters in the house that would later become the focus of paranormal speculation. And while it’s unconfirmed whether the inspiration for Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface, serial killer Ed Gein, actually committed cannibalism, the items found in his house of horrors went far beyond the infamous mask of human skin.

In April, 1873 on a homestead in Labette County, Kansas, another of these stories was unfolding—one that would leave a local family with a nickname that remains infamous almost 150 years later. This is the story of the Bloody Benders, America’s first family of serial killers.”

2. “Valerie R folds her essay like a letter and hands it in. She’s the best writer in my night school class, a pale woman of maybe 32, bird-boned and layered in L.L. Bean. I’ve seen the wary gleam checked behind her eyes, but I don’t get it yet. She offers articulate comments on the readings, and she’s generous to the other students. Until one night when a young guy throws off some razzy putdown of women, and Valerie R turns on him. She takes him apart so fast his face still wears the goofy challenge it had when he opened his mouth. It only collapses in the silence afterward.

Valerie R’s essay defines “rape.” She chooses not to describe the act. Valerie constructs rape from the concrete detail of aftermath. A tremor that reaches her teeth. Her shocky, lunatic offer of coffee to the two policemen who answer the call. Hospital personnel who meet her eyes once and not again.”


4. “At a dinner a few nights ago, Dean said that he was having trouble figuring out how to talk about some of the steps we make in licensing. Dean’s the one who is the face of our workshops, and we’re doing one that chronicles the transition we’re making at WMG Publishing from a publishing business to a licensing business. (You can join it that transition class at

He understood the principle and knew what the steps after the first one was. But he was stymied on how to describe that very first one.

I didn’t make things better. At first, I figured he didn’t know what the step was. So, I suggested that we go over a few of our properties—the ones we were going to concentrate on licensing. We have to do that anyway, so I figured why not?

We aren’t going to discuss those properties in depth in the transition class; we’re going to talk about methods and ways of thinking, maybe using those properties as an example or maybe not. Sometimes there’s “in the weeds” and sometimes there’s so deep in the weeds that no one else gives a crap.”

5. “Hi, y’all. Time for another WIP Wednesday. Today’s post is about a “Work in Publication.” Yesterday, my book Unknown Reasons got some attention over at Marcia’s blog. (If you didn’t read the review, click here to see the post.) I decided to share a little more about the background to this story.

When I began writing Unseen Motives, I planned for Brian Nichols to be a bad guy – a rebellious teenager who never changed his ways. I briefly introduced teenage Brian in the prologue. When I got to the first scene twenty years later, I couldn’t write him as I had planned. Or, I should say, he wouldn’t allow me to make him into a conniving snake in the grass.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.

It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.”

2. “Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.

Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.

For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high-speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

Oh, this book.”

3. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned since my first novel was traditionally published in 2007, it’s that a writer needs to be flexible and amenable to change if they want to be successful. My definition of success? I’m still here. Readers still read my stories–often paying for them–and I still write them.

ISABELLA MOON was first published by Ballantine Books, and was/is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. It’s about a woman living in hiding from an abusive husband, and she’s contacted by the ghost of a child who went missing two years earlier. Why am I so attached to my first novel? I wonder if I would even think about it much if the ebook revolution hadn’t happened. Without ebooks, I doubt I would have bothered to republish it once the rights reverted to me. Just think of all the books that (often deservedly) are lost to time because they were published in paper–paper that wasn’t acid-free. The existence of non-expiring digital content, combined with easy access to book resellers, means that pretty much any book can now stay alive a long, long time.”

4. told him everything.

He told everyone else.

Over countless martini-soaked Manhattan lunches, they shared their deepest secrets and greatest fears. On exclusive yachts sailing the Mediterranean, on private jets streaming towards Jamaica, on Yucatán beaches in secluded bays, they gossiped about sex, power, money, love and fame. They never imagined he would betray them so absolutely. 

In the autumn of 1975, after two decades of intimate friendships, Truman Capote detonated a literary grenade, forever rupturing the elite circle he’d worked so hard to infiltrate. Why did he do it, knowing what he stood to lose? Was it to punish them? To make them pay for their manners, money and celebrated names? Or did he simply refuse to believe that they could ever stop loving him? Whatever the motive, one thing remains indisputable: nine years after achieving wild success with In Cold Blood, Capote committed an act of professional and social suicide with his most lethal of weapons . . . Words.”

5. “Following her father’s murder, Irewen is betrayed and left for dead in the
forests of Mistwood. Rescued by an elf, Irewen awakes an exile with
no home, no country, and no people. But as the horrific memories of
murder and betrayal return, she realizes the nightmare is only beginning.

The world of Vaelinel is failing–its fate bound to her in ways no one
fully understands. A mysterious elven prophecy may provide her with
some answers, but continuously hunted and fighting for her life,
Irewen quickly learns that unearthing the truth will be more
difficult than she ever imagined.

Can she accept the friendship of the Wood Elves, or will she stand alone
against the terrifying evil now threatening to destroy the entire world?”

2 responses to “Five Links 8/23/19 Loleta Abi”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my post, Loleta!

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