Holiday editing slots now available for new clients!

Between today and November 25th I am accepting new editing clients to fill a limited number of holiday slots. These slots will have 2-3 week turn-around times (time needed depends on length of manuscript) and are reserved exclusively for new clients on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Also available between now and January 1, 2018 is the NaNoWriMo Editing Letter Special. For just $100 you get a synopsis-style editing letter and comprehensive editing plan to help you turn your rough NaNo draft into a polished manuscript at your own speed.
Add a 30-minute skype session for only $30 to any editing package (limited availability).

 

What genres will I edit?
Science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, romance, and crime fiction for any age group. If it goes boom, bang, or crash, I can help.

Why let me edit your work?
I started beta reading and critiquing in 2005. Prior to that I was a newspaper editor for a local paper. I’m a hybrid author with experience prepping books for Big 5 publishers, agents, small presses, and self-publication. I know what people are looking for right now and I know how to fix your manuscript.

Email me for samples of my editing style or referrals.

Why hire an editor?
There are no good writers, only good editors. And while every author should learn to edit themselves, we all need help on every book.

None of the books you love went unedited. There isn’t a single book on the bestseller list that wasn’t worked on by an editor. You can write a book alone, but you cannot prepare it for publication alone. A good editor won’t rewrite your book, but they will tell you what needs to be fixed, what needs to be cut, and what needs to be kept.

Every writer is at a different stage of development. All writers (including me) have trouble editing their own work. A fresh set of eyes can not only improve your writing, but can help you refine your style so you stand our in a crowd.

Do you have more questions?
You can always email me at liana.brooks1 @ gmail.com, subject- Editing Question, if you have a question that isn’t answered here.

FREE FALL Flies Free!

Free Fall Mood Board – all art copyrighted to respective artists

FREE FALL, my next SF adventure, has been in the works since late 2015 and is finally finished and out with the last line of critters. Ready for some writing stats?

Word Count: 80,000
Corpse Count: 2 named characters + random guards (RIP Guards)
Chapters: 9 (but they are long chapters with breaks)
Themes: Family, diaspora, identity, friendship
Subgenre: Space heist!
Inspiration: The Train Job/Firefly
Rep: One mixed race, two demisexuals, one bi-guy. (There are various POC but skin tone doesn’t factor into the story for the most part.)
For The Fans Of… If you like my writing, Ocean’s 11, Firefly, Dark Matter, or Killjoys you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.
Pub Date: There is no publication date or publisher attached to FREE FALL at the moment. When that changes I will let you know.
What’s Next? Tomorrow I’m going to sit down with the plot for LAWS OF ATTRACTION, the sequel to BODIES IN MOTION. I already have 11k written and I’m expecting to finish the first draft before February.

 

Breaking Radio Silence

I wish it were cancer.

That’s a cruel thing to say. Cancer is awful, the treatments are painful, the whole experience is a nightmare for the patient and their family. I know how stark and raw it feels listening to a love one be diagnosed. I know how cold the seats are in the oncology department when the doctor calls to tell you that it’s time to talk about the test results. I know the looks of sorrow on people’s faces when you arrive at oncology with a small child in tow to get another blood test done.

Been there. Done that. My mother is a cancer survivor; the last time she had a positive test result come back was the same day I got my first negative test result for cancer.

I understand how bleak it is.

But I wish it were cancer that were killing me.

Cancer has an ending. It has a time frame. It has a limit. You either get better or you die. Either way, it ends.

Cancer patients are fighters. They’re lauded and applauded. If a cancer patient says they’re too exhausted to move and that they just want to lay on the couch all week no one questions that. The cancer victim is given a fluffy pillow, a nice blanket, a light meal, a bowl to throw up in, and they watch a movie as they drift into an uneasy sleep. Sometimes you’ll see a cancer patient going to work, and everyone will talk about how heroic their efforts are. They’re held up as idols of humanity (which is a whole different rant).

When you have cancer there are ribbons, fundraisers, sympathy, and support.

When you have a chronic illness you get nothing.

No one cares that it’s hard to breathe and you’re so tired all you can do is cry. No one is going to tell you how tough you are for getting out of bed. If anyone remembers the most you’ll get is a curious look and a thoughtless statement.

I thought you were better.

Are you sick again?

Have you tried __________?

Just cheer up.

There is no end to chronic illness. That’s what makes it chronic. There aren’t limits. There aren’t sympathy cards. There is very little understanding. Sometimes there aren’t even treatments.

If cancer is a battle, chronic illness is a famine.

It’s exhausting just writing this, because what can I say? I have chronic anemia. It’s an aimless, almost blameless sort of condition. One that does nothing but suck the life out of me leaving my head foggy, my limbs achy, and my motivation gone. It’s like having the flu but it doesn’t get better. The doctors blamed my last pregnancy… that baby was born in 2012. It’s been nearly six years and my iron levels remain chronically low, frequently dipping so low that I spend eighteen hours a day asleep and the rest of the day in haze.

I really wish it were cancer.

Maybe if it were cancer the doctors would care. Maybe then they’d provide something other than an iron pill. Maybe they’d look for a cause instead of shrugging and telling me I just need to power through it. Because we all know human bodies don’t really need *that* much oxygen, so who cares if my iron levels drop? Maybe then it would be easier because I could count down until my last chemo treatment or my next blood test. There’d be markers, signs, indications that I was getting better or worse.

Wishing won’t make this easier. Hoping, praying, dreaming… I don’t have the energy.

In a few weeks I go back to the doctor. Again. For another battery of tests. Again. For another round of prescription iron pills. Again.

Maybe, if I cross my fingers and wish on a star, maybe this will be the last time. Maybe I’ll get better. Maybe I’ll feel like I used to before I was sick. Maybe.

For now? I’m going to curl up under a blanket, cheer on my writer friends, and watch a movie until I fall asleep. It’ll be okay… right? They say any day you aren’t dead is a good one. So being even half alive is a win I suppose. I’m not dead. I don’t have cancer. Doesn’t that make me one of the lucky ones?

For everyone out there whose trip to oncology wasn’t as good as mine, I’m sorry. You’re in my thoughts. Cancer is a battle that I don’t want you to lose.

For everyone in the famine lands of chronic illness, keep going. You never know when the rains will return and life will change. You just have to hold on until it does.

I love you.
– L

Piracy, Ebooks, and The Raven King

After reading Maggie Stiefvater’s openly honest essay about the piracy of her Raven Cycle books I have some thoughts. First, GO READ HER EXPERIENCE.

Second, for those wondering where book four of Heroes and Villains is or a new Sam Rose story, the answer is: there probably won’t be one because of this. There aren’t enough sales on H&V to make it worth my time to go back to the villains. The books I have in the series are my most-pirated work.

When EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE was first released I found it downloaded over 800 times from a pirate website. Eight hundred, on my first novella… the average book sells less than 1000 copies, and in the first month EVFiL was downloaded 800 times.

Heroes and Villains originally published with Breathless Press. They closed because of piracy. Because more of their ebooks wound up on pirate sites than going to paid readers. Fans were mad when promised books were taken now or a series never finished. But a majority of those fans hadn’t bought the books. They’d stolen them. And they were demanding more free work.

The Time & Shadows series saw a similar trend to Maggie’s series. The books sold well enough for the niche they were in. I didn’t have the marketing Maggie does, and I wasn’t writing YA, but I see the same trend of fewer ebook sales and more print sales. And it’s for the same reason. No matter what I do I can’t get all the pirate copies of my books offline.

Which means that instead of writing another book, I’m spending my time looking for a second job. Instead of writing another book in a series fans love, I’m trying to convince a publisher that despite past numbers my books can sell. The thing is… publishers don’t look at pirated books. They aren’t sales. A pirated book won’t pay the rent. A pirated book won’t cover the cost of cover art. A pirated book isn’t freed advertising or a null sale from someone who would never buy the book anyway.

A pirated book is a lost sale.

A pirated book is a lost year of writing.

A pirated book is a lost order from the library.

A pirated book is a death sentence for small presses, midlist authors, and everyone else trying to get by.

For every author, making the next book – writing, editing, publishing – all depends on having the current book sell. Sales mean money for rent, groceries, and bills. Sales mean visibility for the next book. Sales mean a career doing what we love.

If you want books from your favorite authors: BUY BOOKS.

 

Made It Monday: A Primary Color Wave

This weekend I tried a new-to-me project and did a 3 Color painting of a wave. It’s an interesting technique that relies on blending primary colors (red/yellow/blue) to create all the other colors needed. I enjoy painting because 1) I honestly suck at visual art like drawing and painting and want to improve so 2) I have to focus when painting and it becomes very meditative. Learning a new skill isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but I enjoy improving on something, and painting is a nice break from writing.

But, because I’m me and I like patterns, metaphors, and books I couldn’t help but let my mind wander over to how acrylic paintings  – which tend to be ugly up until the very last brush stroke – are so similar to book writing. Since NaNoWriMo is coming up in just a few short weeks I’m going to pull this all together in a quick mini-writing lesson. Because… why not?

If you’re interested in making this painting yourself check out the fabulous Cinnamon Cooney and her Art Sherpa youtube channel.

 

Phase 1: The Outline and Choosing your Colors
Before I could even paint my wave I had to pick which set of primary colors to use. There’s Primary Blue/Yellow/Magenta, or Magenta/Hansa Yellow/Pthalo Blue, or Cad Yellow/Cerulean Blue/Crimson… the different starting tones made different colors. You can see my test splotches in the top corners and the combinations further down.

Starting a story has a similar rhythm. First you need to decide what is going into the book. Are you writing a thriller or a romance? A Romantic thriller with a happy ending? A Thriller with romantic elements and a tragic end? Is your focus on one or two characters, or on the fates of thousands? Is the tone light or dark, somber or joyful, lively or a slow dirge into eternity? Knowing what you want helps you get the foundation of your story correct.

 

 

Phase 2: The Vague Outline of An Idea
The beginning. The end. Not middle visible? Ah, yes, that’s either this painting or anyone rough outline I’ve ever written. You should know where the book starts, and where you intend it to end, but the middle is always a murky mess when you begin. That’s fine. Draw in the ideas you know belong and figure out the rest as you go.

 

Phase 3: Color Blocking And The First Details
What do we have here? It’s a basic wave, you can see the shape of it now, and the middle has been filled with a purple blob that doesn’t really add much, but that’s okay. It’s there. This is the visual representation of a a rough draft. Everything is colored in. Technically, the wave has been painted. It’s not a blank canvas. You could probably sell this at a flea market for $5 and call it a day. It’s also painfully ugly and that ugliness makes too many people throw away their brushes (and their books) and give up in frustration. This looks nothing like the wave I envisioned! A rough draft doesn’t have the mental heft and weight of the book in my head! All is woe and sadness!

Okay, not really. This is a rough draft. The bones of a painting, or a story, are there. Now the fine details need to be added.

 

Phase 4: A Finished Work 
What changed? I added details. The foamy white crest splashing everywhere, reflections of light, more clouds, more color, more paint… And, again, this is a decent enough painting. It could be called done and hung on the wall. The equivalent of a book is one that has a couple rounds of edits and gets a nod. For most books, this is where they hit the query trenches or the publishing trenches. A lot of effort and time has been put into the project and the painter (me!) or the writer (you!) should feel justifiably proud of the effort.

 

Phase 5: The Polished Work
I’ll be 100% honest here… I could do more with this painting. I quit last night because I’d already gone over the 2 hours I’d set aside for painting and I needed to get some sleep. There are little details I’m not super happy with, things I’d still like to change, and I am seriously tempted to repaint this next week and do better

And, while I’m being honest, I can say I’ve felt that way about every book I’ve ever published. Most authors feel this way. There’s always something you think of at the last moment. There is an art to letting go, to knowing when any further effort and embellishment will only add noise, not improvement. It’s a hard skill to learn, and you only learn it if you are willing to take the risk of failing. If you can’t take that risk, can’t let yourself fall, then you’ll never find the point where you can fly.

Worth A Watch – Love O2O

Hello, my lovelies, I’ve found another show that earns a place as Worth A Watch. In keeping with the theme of finding non-American TV to enjoy this fantastically geeky show comes from China and has subtitles for English-speaking audiences on Drama Fever. There are actually two versions of this story, the movie (which I haven’t watched but enjoy the GIFs of) and the TV show that I’m actually going to talk about.

What’s the story? The adorable Wei Wei is a STEM lady working on her computer science degree at a university in Beijing and working as a math tutor on the side. She’s smart, funny, and super sweet. Literally the nicest person ever (which is shown again and again). She lives with three dorm mates in the nicest dorm you’ve ever seen, and in her free time (don’t even ask me how she finds it) she plays an online MMO where she’s the Red Bandit and one of the top ranked players on the server. Interestingly enough, in a refreshing change from most Geek Girl stories she doesn’t play a bard or healer, but an aggressive tanking character. When the story opens she has a crush on the university hottie and a virtual husband on the game (because there are couple-only quests). In the opening episode her online husband dumps her for a character named Enchantress, but she’s not single for long because the #1 player on the game ( a bard-class dude) proposes to her.

The story spans 30 episodes and 2 years as Wei Wei works on her degree, meets her online husband offline, helps him build a new gaming company, and they take over the world. Basically. In a nice way.

Who’s it for? This is for the gamers and romance fans. If you liked The Guild, or anything with Felicia Day, this is the show for you. It’s cute, it’s funny, the characters are (mostly) mature enough to make responsible choices, and there is enough plot to keep you watching for the whole 30 hours. If you love Meet Cute stories about people who find each other online, this is the show for you!

What’s the culture like? The major things that are going to jump out to an American audience are the use of the words Master, Junior, and Senior. In Chinese dramas it’s fairly common for the boss/leader of a group to be called Master (think apprentice/journeyman/master not slave/master). Junior and Senior are used to denote both age and seniority within a company. There’s a healthy bit of nepotism on the Bad Guy side of the spectrum, and some lingering Machismo. Chinese dramas haven’t fully broken away from the Domineering Male Knows Best point of view, but the male lead is fairly modern and fully respects Wei Wei’s opinions and her ability to handle her own problems.

Like Korean Dramas you’ll see more same-sex PDA between friends than between couples. Wei Wei and her friends are a close knit group and stay that way for the most part.

A fun cultural bonus is the Chinese poetry and history that gets slipped into the story. At one point the male lead tells Wei Wei “The flowers are blooming by the road. Enjoy them on your way home.” which sounds kind of weird without context. The context is that this is from am Emperor of China whose wife was visiting her mother, he didn’t want to order her back to the palace, but he missed her and this is what he wrote. The literally translation would be, “I love you and I miss you every day and I want you to come home but I respect your need to be with family and I’ll wait patiently until you’re ready to come back.”

Also, there’s a ton of basketball. I forgot how much Chinese liked the game until I watched this and remembered they do pretty well in the Olympics. They might not be Michael Jordan (but who is?), but they do like to dunk. It’s a better way to solve problems than the standard Boy Brawl, and I enjoyed it.

Bonuses? There’s no dramatic misunderstanding! The mainstay of the rom-com genre is done away because this is a nice couple who gets to be a couple for most the show. There’s also a m/m ship that is written and filmed as a romantic duo although we never see a kiss (only the main couple gets a kiss – sorry!). I found the pairing cute, although [name redacted] deserves a more mature hubby in my mind. Come for the cute warrior queen and stay for her adorable dad, her friends, and the bros.

Extra Bonus: There are some really awesome costumes in the fantasy game scenes. Enjoy!

What to watch out for? The sound dubbing in the first few episodes was a bit echo-y, especially in the dorm room scenes. Other than that, expect some bad behavior from the Jealous Dude who thinks Wei Wei should love him (because he has a crush – so obvs she’ll just adore him). There’s a minor redemption arc there, but not enough for me to forgive him.

How many seasons? Only one season, but it has 30 episodes each an hour long. Watch out, those last five minutes always result in a cliffhanger. If you need to go to bed stop at 50 minutes in and watch the last bit before going on to the next episode.

 

October Editing Special

 

October editing special! Book a content edit and hand the manuscript in before November 1st and you get a free query/back-of-book blurb critique with it. The standard submission formatting and rates apply. ($1/page – Times New Roman font – Double Spaced)

What is a developmental/content edit? Think of it as boot camp for your book. Your emotional scenes get stronger, your action scenes get fiercer, your prose loses the flab and comes out fab.

Developmental, or content edits are the second stage of editing. After you’ve gone through and made sure you’ve used the same name for your hero, haven’t left any scenes that way [insert fight here], and have done a basic spellcheck you hand your manuscript to a beta reader or editor to find the plot flaws.

Then you give the manuscript to me. I look at pacing, plot, character development, and context within the genre then tell you where things are working and where you need to do some major work. Content edits keep your book from being flabby, slowly paced, or meandering to the point where you lose your readers.

After a content edit your book will need at least one round of revisions (possibly more), and then a line edit to find any grammatical errors or typos.

To reserve a space please contact me at liana.brooks1@gmail.com

Fine Print: 
– I do not edit erotica or horror. I can recommend editors for these books if you need them.
– To qualify for the free query critique you will need to hand the full manuscript in by October 31st.
– This promotion is offered on a First Come/First Served basis. Reservations are highly encouraged.

The Hilarious And Epic Fails Of The Print Shop

Once upon a time there was a book…

… not just any book, but a book written by an American author for a brand new Australian publisher using a system still unfamiliar to most. It was a good book, well-planned and well-written. The schedule was made months in advance. All contingencies were planned for. And so all proceeded as if nothing could go wrong with the little book’s launch into the world.

At first, not much was planned. A few blog posts, a lunch perhaps, and then – when the book was a few weeks older and strong enough to go out into the world – a convention in Canberra, Australia. The files were filed. The edits were done. The books were ordered… and none came.

The day of the launch there was nothing.

Files had been filed, but lost. Edits had been done, but erased. Computer error. System error. User error. Distribution error. It was all there (or not as the case would be).

Still, there weeks until the con. Things could be salvaged. New files filed. New books sent to replace the missing box. Time passed, and the box of books did not come. And did not come. And did not come.

Phone calls were made. New books ordered. A new distributor used. A new system learned. And still the books did not come.

The con arrived, and the proof copy sat alone amid the other books.

The editor and the author talked. The distributor and the editor talked. The readers and the author talked. The conclusion, dear friend, will surprise no one at all. That little book was cursed when it launched this fall.

Two weeks after the official release – and too many working hours to contemplate – and we still don’t know where the box of BODIES IN MOTION prints are. There are still people getting a bad file when downloading from Amazon (despite multiple emails, calls, and updates). If I were a slightly more superstitious person I’d burn the drafts for LAWS OF ATTRACTION and have someone come cleanse the bad vibes from my house because this book is jinxed. Logically, it’s not. This is just one of those First Run hiccups that you encounter.

After all, EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE lost its editor three weeks before publication and I survived that. Only losing the proof copies and the print edition for the con is small potatoes by comparison. More phone calls were made this week. More emails sent. Hopefully this means we’ll have the print edition (and the hyphen problem with the Amazon conversion) sorted out by the end of the week. And, if not? Well… maybe then I’ll ask someone to come fix the feng shui at my work station.

 

 

Thank you for reading BODIES IN MOTION!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for coming along on the journey that is BODIES IN MOTION.

When I first came up with this story it was something much shorter, with much less depth and impact. It was a story about a missed opportunity, a war, and a second chance at love. I toyed with the idea of writing the war itself, and decided that the war never mattered. Wars happen all the time. Wars are universally painful. Wars are universally tragic. Even when a war wins something crucial – like freedom or safety – everyone who survives walks away scarred. What is unique is how those survivors live with the scars.

The common wisdom is that wars and collapses of society are exciting, but rebuilding is boring. I hope BODIES IN MOTION gave you a different perspective. Personally, I’ve seen enough war in my lifetime. I’ll probably live to see more war and more scars. But with every war will come the challenge to rebuild. With every scar we’re given a chance to rebuild ourselves, or let the wound seep, rot, and inevitably destroy us. I’d rather rebuild than rot.

BODIES IN MOTION became not just a larger novel, but also my first serial novel, and that was a fun adventure.

One of my dedicated fans in Australia wrote to tell me she was late to work because a chapter posted and she had to read before leaving home (Sorry!). People from all around the globe found BODIES IN MOTION. We chatted about who was guilty, who was falling in love, and speculated on who Rowena would find love with in LAWS OF ATTRACTION. Can I tell you a secret? Up until June Rowena was slotted for a very different story arc and One True Love. Up until early June, she was actually going to meet a new character in LAWS OF ATTRACTION.

One scene changed that.

The interaction was too good between Rowena and (SPOILER!) so I threw out everything I had for Book 2 and took LAWS OF ATTRACTION in a completely different direction. I have the first quarter of the book written and I think you’ll like it. But you’ll have to wait until 2018 to read.

For now, BODIES IN MOTION will stay up in all it’s drafty glory on the blog. Most of you already know how to get EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE for free (hint: sign up for my newsletter), but I think for other readers who stumble across here in the next year or so BODIES IN MOTION is a good place to start.

 

Editing for #PuertoRico

It’s simple: Puerto Rico needs help.

Three point five million (3.5 million!) people are without water or power, they’re in danger of damns breaking, have limited access to communications, and medical services are spotty at best. These are Americans in need and it’s time to give.

For the rest of the week (until October 2, 2017) every dollar donation you make to Hispanic Federation to help rebuild Puerto Rico gets you 2 pages edited. That’s a 50% discount from my usual editing rates and is first come, first serve.

Five dollars for Puerto Rico gets you ten pages edited.

A hundred dollars for Puerto Rico gets you 200 pages edited. That’s a full novella.

Ready to help? Here’s how:
1) Go to HispanicFederation.org and send them money.
2) Take a screenshot of your receipt.
3) Send me your manuscript formatted in Times New Roman size 12 font double-spaced and the screenshot of your receipt using the subject line EDITING FOR PUERTO RICO
4) I will let you know where you are in line and the estimated return date for your edits.

It’s that simple. You help the people in Puerto Rico rebuild, and I help make your book better. Together we can do a lot of good.

 

Questions about what I edit or how? Check out the FAQ.