I No Longer Follow Dale L Roberts

© Can Stock Photo / tangducminh

There are good people out there giving good advice for writers and those who want to become writers. Some, like yours truly, have traditional blogs. Others, such as Dale L Roberts, use YouTube. I stumbled on his channel when he posted a video comparing the print quality of several well known POD (print on demand) book printers. While I was there I clicked on the subscribe button as he had some good information. However, I have unsubscribed from his channel, and I did so for a very good reason.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I am very much opposed to using AI software of any kind for writing books. In fact, I recently wrote a blog article called, AI Will NOT be Writing my Novels. Another reason why I am opposed to AI is because AI cheapens our profession.

Once was a time, if you wanted to be a writer, you had to have talent. You also had to learn your craft. In other words, you had to pay your dues. Now, thanks to AI, any would-be-if-they-could-be can buy AI software, and with a few clicks of a mouse, have an instant book that they actually didn’t write. A machine wrote it for them. They’re just putting their name on it and saying they wrote it. No, this isn’t the same as using a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is a real human being who also paid his or her dues.

So this morning I’m on YouTube, and here’s Dale L Roberts touting the latest new AI software for writers which allegedly mixes human creativity with AI technology. Gee, Dale, I’ve only been writing books without AI for about twenty years now. How did I possibly manage to do it on my own, using real human editors and proofreaders, and not use AI?

So, once again, I point out in the comments that real writers have talent, and if you want to be a writer you should take some writing classes. So, he attacks my comment. It’s his platform. He is free to attack me if he wishes. However, I don’t have to take his crap! So, I deleted my comment, and unsubscribed from his channel. I am also speaking my mind on my platform, not his, and if Dale L Roberts doesn’t like what I have to say then too freaking bad.

AI does not make you a better writer. AI just makes you a lazy writer. Or a fake writer. Let me say it again, just for you, Dale. AI cheapens our profession. If you’re serious writer, you do not need to use AI. You already have the talent, and the skills, to write your own original content in your own, unique writing voice.  You’re also the kind of writer who doesn’t believe in using software which can plagiarize other writers’ work.

If you want to follow Dale L Roberts on YouTube you are certainly free do to so. However, because I am very much opposed AI writing software for the reasons I have mentioned above, I can no longer recommend him as a good information source. If you want to be a writer, take some writing classes. Join professional associations. Network with other authors and learn from your peers. As for me, I’m standing by my principles. I worked damn hard to learn my craft. Therefore, I will continue to write my own unique content without using AI software of any kind, and without Mr. Dale L Roberts’ approval.

Gayle Martin

From the Writer’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

Find Your Own Writing Voice

Photo by Gayle Martin

One thing we writers have in common, regardless of our genres, is our own unique writing voice. What’s a writing voice? Simply put, a writing voice is the way you organize your thoughts and put them into words. No two of us do this exactly the same way. For example, some writers are more descriptive. Others are more direct. Danielle Steele and Rosamunde Pilcher are two of my favorite authors. Both are amazing story tellers, but their writing voices are very distinct. I would never confuse a Danielle Steele novel with a Rosamunde Pilcher novel.

The other day one of my Facebook friends posted about having a hard time writing his novel. As writers, we all have our moments. However, he was trying to write like another author. I responded with, “You need to write like you, not like someone else.” He response was to let me know he’d changed the narrative from third person to first person, and he was a lot more comfortable writing in the first person. I’m not a big fan of first person narratives myself, but some readers like them, and if it works for him then thats’s what matters. There is no right or wrong narrative.

So, how do you find your writing voice? The best way I know would be to start writing. Grab a notebook and a pen, and start keeping a journal. Writing classes can also be a big help. Every community college offers writing courses of some kind, and they’re usually very affordable. I also recommend taking the classes in person if at all possible. Having a real live instructor makes a huge difference. Other students can be helpful as well. If you’re unable to take a class in person there are online Master Classes for writing. As you learn more techniques, and become more comfortable with writing, you’ll discover your writing voice.

While other writers can certainly influence us, we should never set out to emulate them. There was only one Mark Twain, one Jane Austen, and one Edgar Allen Poe. No one could ever replace them. Likewise, there is only one you, so write like you.

Gayle Martin

 

From the Writer’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

 

 

Why You May Need Different ISBNs

Cover illustration by Wesley Lowe. Cover design by Good Oak Press, LLC

Some first-time authors find ISBN numbers confusing. It’s actually quite simple. An ISBN is an identification number for a book.

Why you need an ISBN number

If you plan on selling your book, (and who isn’t?) the book seller will need the ISBN number. It’s also included in the barcodes. Every item we buy has a barcode number. I’m even seeing little barcode stickers on fresh produce. The days of cashiers punching prices into a cash register by hand are long gone.  An ISBN number is also required if you plan on selling your books online.

How to get an ISBN number

I purchase my ISBN numbers in bulk from Bowker. They sell them individually, or in lots of ten to one thousand. I prefer to buy mine in lots of ten. It comes to just under thirty dollars per number. The bigger the lot, the less per number. If you were to buy one thousand, each would cost a dollar and fifty cents. However, as prolific of an author as I am, I don’t think I could write a thousand books in my lifetime. Therefore, I will stick with buying lots of ten.

Please note the ISBN number is registered to the publisher. I registered a trade name with the State of Arizona when I started writing books. (As I was living in Arizona at the time.) Again, I highly recommend this, as it will make you look more professional. However, if you don’t want to take this step, you may want to consider partnership publishing. The partnership publisher will assign you one of their ISBN numbers.

Bowker has included other services since I first started working with them. They now offer copyright registration, cover design, as well as many others. I highly recommend them.

Some book selling platforms also offer ISBN numbers. This includes Amazon and Draft2Digital. When I left Ingram, I needed new ISBN numbers for my print books. Even through I purchased then from Bowker, Ingram was the original distributor. For whatever reason, it created an issue with Draft2Digital, but they offered me free ISBN numbers for their print editions. The Amazon editions still use the original ISBN numbers I purchased from Bowker.

When you need more than one ISBN number

Most authors will publish an eBook and print edition of their book. Some may also offer an audiobook. However, each edition requires its own ISBN number. Print editions may also require additional numbers, as a hardcover book differs from a paperback. While each version may have the same publisher, each edition is a different product. Therefore it is unique. The same rule applies if you were to offer a second edition of an older title. Because the content is different from the original, it will need a differet ISNB number.

Buyer Beware

There are, unfortunately, a lot of bad actors out there taking advantage of newbie authors. One common scam is to offer free or highly discounted ISBN numbers. The numbers are either fake, or they may have been assigned to a book which is no longer in print. Only buy an ISBN number from a trusted source, such as Bowker. As mentioned before, some distributors, such as Amazon or Draft2Digital may offer free ISBN numbers. However, there may be limitations to the distribution channels.

Make sure your happy with your title before you assign an ISBN

Once you assign an ISBN number to a book title, the title cannot be changed. I typically assign my print edition ISBN number to my manuscript while I am writing. However, I have not yet done so with the current book I’m working on. When writing fiction, you’ll find that characters can have minds of their own. This means they will sometimes take a story in a different direction than originally planned, as is the case here.  So, for now, I’m considering the title, Rivalry, as a working title only. Once the manuscript is complete, I’ll ask my editor if she thinks the title fits the story. If so, great. If not, then I haven’t blown $29.50 on an ISBN number which I may never be able to use.

Gayle Martin

 

From the Writter’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

 

AI Will NOT be Writing My Novels

© Can Stock Photo / vwalakte

I’m hearing a lot of hoopla about AI being here. I’m also reading some interesting social media posts about it from fellow authors. Let’s just say we’re not impressed. None of us plan on using it.

I’m also perfectly capable of writing my own blog posts, thank you very much. I’ve been writing them for years, and I certainly don’t need a robot to write them for me. And, like all writers I have own unique writing voice.  So why would I allow a piece of software to take my voice away from me?

For novel writers, writing is very much a form of art. We tap into our wonderful human imaginations and create stories. We create imaginary people and bring them to life. Over the years readers have told me how believable my characters are. I take it as a complement. Interestingly enough, I don’t consciously create them. I’ll start out with a few basic ideas, such as their age and physical characteristics. The magic happens when I put them on paper. They come to life, and they tell me who they are. I also put a lot of love into my stories. No machine can do that. Machines aren’t living beings. Therefore, they cannot experience emotions.

Lord willing, I plan on writing romance novels for many years to come. Writing novels is my life’s calling. It’s what gives my life its meaning and purpose. I will also continue using human editors and proofreaders. Of course this means my books might contain a few errors. No human being is perfect. Making mistakes is one of the things that makes us human.

I’m currently working on my next Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, and I will be adding the following to my disclaimer.

This book was written and edited by real human beings. We do not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

I’ve worked hard to create a following. I want my readers to feel confident in knowing that the novels they are reading were written by me, and not by a machine.

Gayle Martin aka Marina Martindale

 

No, I am Not a Hobbyist

Whenever I log into Facebook I always look at my memories page. It’s interesting to see something I posted years ago. Sometimes it’s bittersweet. I’ll read a comment, or see a like, from a good friend or family member who has since passed away.

The other day I found something notable on my memories page. It was something I posted back in 2018 about how artists sometimes have to deal with people who disrespect them and refuse to pay them a fair price for their services. One man commented that perhaps the problem was supply and demand. He thought there were simply too many artists out there. Therefore, we should give up our art.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person who is giving their opinion is right.

My arts are writing and photography. They are my life’s passions. My art is what defines me as a human being. It’s what gives my life its meaning and purpose. Other artists, whether they be writers, musicians, actors, or painters, will tell you the same.

The Myth that Artists are Merely Hobbyists

It’s age-old misconception that way too many people seem to embrace. Art is nothing more than a hobby. People who are serious about earning a living need to get a “real job.” Whatever a real job is.

Some artists are lucky. They’re able to make a living full time with their art. Or they may find a career where they can use their artistic skills, such as a copywriter or graphic designer at an advertising agency. Most, however, will have to find a day job, and they are not alone. There are teachers, office workers, and others who have to work second jobs in order to make ends meet. So why are they not called, “hobbyists?”

They Would Be if They Could Be

There are some who get into the arts, not to express themselves, but because they want to become rich and famous. I recall once talking to a man who told me he was going to write a book, but he refused to tell me what his book was about. All he would say was he had come up with an idea that was so unique no one in human history had ever thought of it before. Therefore, his book was going to be a runaway bestseller. Hollywood would want to buy the screen rights to his story. This was why he couldn’t tell me what his book was about. If he told me, I would steal it from him.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep a straight face. I asked him how far along was he in writing his book. He said he hadn’t started writing it yet. Of course he hadn’t. No surprise there. So I wished him the best of luck. He will need it.

The man was a total fake. Real artists aren’t trying to impress anyone. They’re much too busy creating their art. The others, the ones who would-be if they could-be, are just blowing hot air about what they’re going to do. Someday. When they have the time. Right now they’re just too busy. I’ll give the man credit. He became the inspiration for a feature article called, The Author Myth, which is posted above the blog banner.

Some people do enjoy dabbling in art simply because they enjoy it. To them it’s strictly a hobby. They’re not interested in becoming professionals, and that’s okay too. However, they should never be confused with other artists who are professionals and are paid for their work, even if they have other jobs.

So What Defines an Artist?

An artist is someone who creates art because it’s their life’s calling. They will do whatever they have to do, including working day jobs, to pay the bills so they can continue being artists.

I consider myself an artist. As I mentioned before, my art happens to be fine art photography and writing contemporary romance novels. I’m an author with a good following. I also created my own publishing company, Good Oak Press, LLC. Many of my fellow independent authors have done the same.

We’re in this gig because writing is our life’s passion. We’ve put many, many years of blood, sweat and tears into learning our craft and becoming the people we are. As far as we’re concerned, anyone who thinks we should, “give up our art and get a real job,” is woefully ignorant.

 

The Cure for Writer’s Block

Image by Gayle Martin

It happens to all of us at one time or another. We run into a proverbial brick wall and suddenly find ourselves unable to come up with something to write about. Oh, no! It’s the dreaded writer’s block. Ugh!

Creativity is a funny thing. We can’t  turn it on and off whenever it’s convenient. This can be particularly frustrating for fiction writers who have to juggle their writing between work and family time, only to end up staring at a blank screen or paper and wondering what to do with it.

Sometimes switching gears and writing about another topic can help. I have friends who typically work on two or three different books at the same time. If they get stuck on one they simply set it aside and work on another one. However, if you’re like me, and you only work on one story at a time, then you may have to get a little more creative. Try stepping away from the computer and doing a project that’s been on your to do list for too long. Those nagging issues really can effect your creativity.

If that doesn’t help, then why not take a break and do something you enjoy doing? Bake some cookies. Play a round of golf. Go to a movie, or a ball game. Take a day trip somewhere. Read a book that you haven’t had time to read. Call a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Taking a time out and doing something different, particularly if it’s something you really enjoy, but don’t get to do too often, gives your mind a chance to focus on other things, giving your creative muse a rest.

Don’t worry about your story. It’ll come back. And when it does, you can pick up where you left off.

Gayle Martin

Dialog vs Using Proper Grammar

© Can Stock Photo / bradcalkins

One of the things I love the most about writing fiction is creating the dialog. The dialog is what brings the characters to life. However, like any other kind of writing, there is a technique for writing effective dialog. In fact, there are entire books about how to write dialog. If you’re new to writing fiction I highly recommend reading them. In the meantime, I’m going to cover some of the basics, and the way I go about writing dialog.

What is the purpose of dialog?

As most of you already know, fiction writing is all about the conflict. The conflict is what drives the storyline, and the dialog helps build the tension. For example, the more a character talks about their big plans, and how they made everything foolproof, the more we know something is about to go terribly wrong.

Dialog also defines the character’s personality. A character who has a PhD will undoubtably have a different speech pattern than a character who’s a high school dropout. Here in the United States, different regions of the country have their own dialects. A character from Boston will speak differently than a character from New Orleans. Therefore, it’s a good idea to set your story in a location where you are familiar with the local lingo.

Dialog and Grammar

People don’t use perfect grammar when they are speaking. We tend to shorten words. We may say, “gonna,” instead of, “going to.” We speak in incomplete sentences as well as comma spliced sentences. Therefore, none of my characters speak perfect, grammatically correct English. Fortunately, my editor gets this. She’s a fiction writer herself. However, it’s been an issue with some of the proofreaders I’ve worked with.

Gloria, who proofread many of my earlier Marina Martindale romance novels, passed away a few years ago. She was a dear friend who I will always miss, and she also loved my books. While not a writer herself, she had once been a proofreader for a newspaper. Trust me, nothing got past her watchful eye. She also understood the difference between narrative and dialog.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky with the proofreaders for my next two novels. One was a retired English teacher who not only corrected all the grammar in my dialog, she also argued with me when I pointed out, more than once, that real people do not speak perfect, grammatically correct English. My most recent proofreader was someone who had learned English as a second language. To her credit, she was very fluent in English, and she had also written a few nonfiction books. However, when it came to the dialog, she didn’t always understand slang words and common idioms, which caused some confusion.

The Use of Grammar in First and Third Person Narratives

I write in the third person narrative. When my characters aren’t speaking I use proper grammar and punctuation in my narrative as I describe the events from an anonymous and detached point of view. However, the rules may vary when using the first person narrative. Since your character is telling the entire story from start to finish, you need to let the character speak in his or her own voice. The same is true when writing dialog in the third person narrative. Let your characters have their own distinctive voice.

Gayle Martin

 

From the Writer’s Desk is written, edited, and maintained by a real human being. It does not include content generated by AI (Artificial Intelligence) software of any kind.

No part of this blog may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form, or used in any matter by AI, without the express written consent Good Oak Press, LLC. Requests for permission must be addressed to Good Oak Press, LLC, P.O. Box 51244, Denton, TX 76206-1244

Lying vs Fiction Writing

© Can Stock Photo / Ostill

I sometimes see the stupidest things on social media memes, such as, “Writers are professional liars because they tell stories for a living.”

Oh, please! Go peddle it someplace else. If you can’t tell the difference between a fictional story and “bearing false witness,” you’re beyond hope.

What’s the Difference?

Lying is knowing something to be false and presenting it as fact. It can also be telling a half-truth, or lying by omission. Simply put, you’re withholding pertinent information about something to slant the narrative in your favor. A good example would be a married man who presents himself a  single, unattached man. He’s a self-serving individual who intentionally deceives others solely to please himself. I included such an individual in one of my Marina Martindale novels. Interestingly enough, it’s titled, The Deception. I’ll just say it didn’t end well for him.

Fiction writing, or storytelling, is presenting a story about people who never existed. Unlike the liar, whose motives are to mislead or deceive, the storyteller is altruistic. Their goal is to entertain, or educate, or both. For example, I read Aesop’s Fables when I was a child. It’s common knowledge that the stories are make believe. They’re told to teach lessons about morality.

The other purpose for storytelling is to entertain. Life isn’t always easy or fair. We all feel overwhelmed at times, and we need to take a break. We’ll turn on the TV, watch a video, or perhaps read a book. As a novel writer, my purpose it to entertain the reader so he or she can take a break from reality.

So there you have it. I also get it. Some people don’t read fiction, and that’s okay. To each their own. However, I have zero tolerance for people who intentionally insult the integrity and sully the reputations of fiction authors. As stated, our purpose isn’t to deceive. It’s to entertain. There is a difference.

Gayle Martin

Making Promises You Can’t Deliver

© Can Stock Photo / eric1513

Years ago, a fellow writer contacted me about including me in a book she was writing. I’d met her at a few events where I was promoting my Luke and Jenny book series. Her book was about honoring people who helped to preserve the history or promote the culture of the old west. It would feature many prominent Arizonans, as well as a few Hollywood actors.

Needless to say, I felt both honored and excited to be included in this very distinguished group. One member had been the host of a kid’s TV show in Phoenix which ran for over thirty-five years. He may not have been as famous as the Hollywood actors, but I grew up watching him on TV. I was especially excited to be in the same group as him, and I really looked forward to reading her book once it was published.

A few years went by. I checked her website from time to time. There was no new information, but I wasn’t concerned. Writing a book doesn’t happen overnight, so this was not uncommon.

It’s now been more than a decade since she first contacted me, and her website has since been taken down. It wasn’t a good sign, so I wondered if something might have happened to her. A number of people she included in her book have since passed away, including the kid’s TV show host. Then the other day I saw one of her posts on Facebook. It was the first I’d seen or heard of her in years.

I commented on her post and asked how she was doing. I also asked her about her book. Her response was totally unexpected. She had changed her mind and wasn’t going to do her book after all. It was too much work and she just didn’t have the time. Seriously?

We’ve all had ideas for books which we may have started, but, for whatever reason, were unable to finish. The issue is her having contacted and interviewed people before she changed her mind. At the very least, she should have reached out us, along with the families of those who had passed away, to thank us for our time and apologize for not being able to complete the book. It would have also been nice if she had returned whatever materials I may have sent to her. Where I come from this is called common courtesy.

Things happen, but it never ends well when you don’t deliver on the promises you make. I honestly feel like I’ve been duped, and whatever respect I may have had for her evaporated the minute I read her comment. I take my profession seriously. I’ve worked hard to build a good reputation. If something beyond my control comes up and prevents me from keeping a promise, I let the other party know, as soon as I possibly can. Not only is it common courtesy, it’s also good karma.

Gayle Martin

Questions to Ask an Editor

© Can Stock Photo/ novelo

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, every author, regardless of experience or genre, needs an editor. There are no exceptions. However, finding the right editor for your book may be daunting. This is especially true if you’re a new author working on your first book.

The best way I know to find an editor is to ask for referrals through writers groups, forums and associations. Then, once you have a few names, the next step is to reach out to them and see if they would be a good fit for you.

Your editor is your writing partner, so chances are you’ll be working closely together. He or she will also be working for you. So, as with any job, you’ll need to conduct a job interview. The following questions are a guide to help you determine if your prospective editor would be the best fit for you.

  • Do you edit books in my genre?
  • Do you charge be the hour, or by the word count?
  • How much will you charge?
  • Do you offer manuscript evaluations?
  • How long is your turnaround time?
  • Would you have any issues if my manuscript should contain graphic violence, sexual content, or harsh language?

I found Cynthia, my current editor, at a writer’s association meeting. We were both surprised to see one another there as both of us were, at the time, also performers in Tombstone, Arizona. Because we already knew one another we knew we would be a great fit as we shared other interests besides writing.  We also have the same twisted sense of humor. Never underestimate the importance of having a good sense of humor. In fact, I learned the hard way to never drink coffee while I’m reviewing her edits. A few years ago there was an unfortunate incident when I was reading one of her snarky comments in the margin while swallowing my coffee. I of course started laughing, and the coffee nearly went out my nose.

I can’t think of a better example of having a good relationship with your editor. The editing process can sometimes be intense, so being able to crack a joke can relieve the tension. Remember, your editor is there to help you. He or she reviews your manuscript with a fresh pair of eyes to catch the mistakes you may have missed, and, when necessary, make revisions or suggest rewrites. Their goal is to create a positive experience for your readers. And the better the reading experience, the more likely your readers will recommend your book to others.

Gayle Martin