Everyone has a Story:
Lessons we learnt about publishing.
We learned a great deal when we produced Everyone Has a Story and we thought you'd find our insights helpful for your own publishing adventures.
The project was headed by Sumanda Maritz (Sth. Africa) and Raymond Stone (Cyprus) with Flo Ginsburg (USA) as copy editor.
Sumanda set up a spreadsheet that tracked each step we went through.
Story Selection: Our first step was to go through all the serials we had published up to October of last year. We were looking for serials with strong story lines and interesting characters. However, these were our early serials and we were not thinking of creating an Anthology when we set them up so a lot of them had problems with continuity, grammar, voice among other issues. We shortlisted 12 stories.
Permissions: Once we selected the serials we had to get permission from each writer to use their chapter.
Formatting: Once we had that Sumanda created a word document and did some basic formatting. What she was looking for were changes in font, font size, spacing, extra lines and any other inconsistent formatting.
Continuity and logical check: This is a critical step in any publication. Names have to be spelt the same throughout, people cannot be in two places at once, have to have the same hair colour, use language the same way, and so on. When you have multiple authors producing one story the risk of changes to plot, character and environment increase dramatically.
Changes and Re-writes: There were some chapters that required a complete re-write. The most dramatic was one story where we decided to scrap one chapter because the thread it introduced was not followed up by subsequent writers. We swapped other chapters around and asked the author of the scrapped chapter to write a new one that fitted in with the story line. She did this. It was incredible how willingly people accepted and adapted to fit the story to help us out. We were very thankful for this.
Formal editing: I have to say that having a formal editor is an absolute must for any publishing endeavor. An example I particularly recall is that of coke. A passenger was drinking coke but because it is a brand name it needed to be spelt with a capital C. Flo picked this up along with many other points while copy editing.
Formal formatting: Jill Darragh, from Rangitawa Publishing sent us the template and with her help we compiled the Anthology.
Biographies: People hate writing about themselves. We asked for 50 words. Sometimes we got 200 words and other time 20. It was great to read about everyone when the book finally came out. The biographies show what diverse backgrounds we come from and it was exciting to discover this new writing 'friend' we had shared time writing a serial with.
Cover design: Jasmine Groves did a fantastic job of designing the cover. One of the exciting moments in publishing a book is when the cover design is unveiled. Jasmine captured the essence of Everyone Has a Story in her design and that was magic.
Checking the Proofs: Rangitawa Publishing sent us the proof copy and once we had checked it one last time we gave the signal to publish the world's first collaboratively written book of serials.
To purchase: click here
If you want ideas about how to share this amazing first with your friends, contact Sumanda Maritz firstname.lastname@example.org.
What people are saying
Rosemary is an author who features in Everyone has a Story.
I finished writing my first book in 2013. I believed my story was good. I also believed my writing was good. Thus, I submitted my work to several Australian agents and was rejected every time.
Some said I needed to attend courses, others suggested professional editing. All great suggestions. But I was not only time poor but money poor. I felt as if I should give up. Thankfully, I didn’t.
Not long after, I was introduced to Suraya Dewing and The Story Mint.
There are no words to explain the difference The Story Mint has made to my writing. Belonging to such a fabulous network of writers, participating in the serials and reading other author’s opinions on my work has been the best writing experience I have had. As for the stylecheck™? It made my writing go from the ordinary [sometimes over-written, overly described… okay mostly over-written, mostly overly described] to work that is much tighter and stronger.
I always thought I understood the ‘Show Don’t Tell’ concept. The Story Mint and stylecheck™ not only educated me on what ‘Show Don’t Tell’ looked like, but taught me that I hadn’t really comprehended its full power.
Since then, I have had my first book ‘Forgotten’ published. The reviews I have been getting are amazing. And the majority of reviews are from unknown people. I know my roots. And acknowledge that Suraya and The Story Mint and all those involved have helped me get there.
Several days ago, I was in line to write the next chapter of a serial called ‘Captive’. I wrote it, edited, re-edited. When I was happy with the result, I placed it on stylecheck™. What a pleasant surprise! It landed in the centre of the grid.
I recalled the many, many times over the years when my chapters fell off the grid, abysmally so. Stylecheck™ showed me where my weaknesses lay and how to improve them. It also showed me my strengths. Now when I write, it often falls on the grid in the best place possible for fiction writing. Not always! But more than it used to.
Stylecheck™ sits alongside my wonderful editor, both of them my right hand people.
Read some of her brilliant chapters in Everyone has a Story.
Tell us what you think about our community of writers and concept, we'd love to hear from you.
Moving forward with...
In this issue we are featuring some of the authors who appeared in the Anthology who have not appeared in the newsletter lately.
We asked them what their writing dreams were.
To be entertaining and appealing to the widest possible audience.
Relationships, particularly family, are at the core of my commitment to engage readers.
Humour is an essential ingredient in everything I put down on paper, sometimes verging on the edge of offensive.
My writing dream: to know my work effected something; yes, a watered-down version of 'change the world'. I'm one who believes everything affects everything. If you have an emotional reaction—or spend a moment reflecting—when you recall something I wrote, I've impacted on your life. That's a amazing privilege.
Mat Clarke is a prolific fiction writer of thrillers with four novels completed and another four on the way. And although writing one genre is generally typical, Mat also writes children’s stories, YA, non-fiction, horror, scripts, poetry, and much more.
Discover these talented authors in Everyone has a Story
Tell us your stories
We encourage you to let us know about your successes. Your success gives us all heart and motivates us towards achieving our writing goals. If you can do it we know we can too.
What's hot with the Serials?
We are a community of writers who belong to The Story Mint to encourage and help each other. If, for some reason, you are struggling with your chapter ask either Donna, Suraya or Anna for a tip or two to get the story moving along. We love to work with you.
Remember, if you have chapters to write then someone is waiting for you to finish yours so they can start writing.
We welcome our new writers. Your storytelling skills are inspiring!.
Donna McTavish, Serials Manager.
Some serials are winding up so have set off four more serials... d.a.d.s, Josephine, Mirror, Mirror and The Beauty Contest
They are off to an exciting start!
Serials to Book
Time Travel by Raymond Stone. What is this trip of a life time that Lysen offers?
Encounter by Joe Labum. This is Joe's first starter and it's brilliant. What is the box-like object following Roland? It is his second encounter so what are these mysterious events or who are these strange visitors.
Nestor, Lester and Esther by Ken Burns. This is a fun serial with allusion's to Ken's very successful The Choir. Five chapters left.
Crack in the Ceiling by Iliena Bosu. What if she never returned to her room? Is the day going to be memorable? We have to wait to see.
NXT Flight by Jasmine Groves. Lasiandra is up to her tricks, fluttering her extended eyelashes at easily flustered Gary.. Five chapters to book.
Lawnmarket by Anna Zhigareva. The markets are set up and royalty is coming.There is a young woman running. From what from who? One chapter
Welcome to Halloween by Rosemary Wakelin. We are so close to getting this serial underway and it will be fun. I'm sure most of us can relate to the need to to escape from family. So let's make this great escape a lot of fun! Three chapters left.
Retribution 2 by Jasmine Groves. There's so much potential for conflict and romance. There are four chapters left.
If you write a serial chapter you join an elite group of writers who are working together to encourage each other. You are also giving future readers of your writing an opportunity to read your work and to follow you.
d.a.d.s. is now two chapters into the story. Girls are driving racing cars and boys are dancing.
Storm is on its way with an extraordinary chapter that debates the distinction between fallen apart and falling apart. This chapter is an example of masterful use of dialogue.
Josephine is on its way. Hold your breath for the ride!
Mirror Mirror is now up to chapter three and is the most wonderful read with mystery and mystical happenings.
Rest in Peace This story is really taking shape with Sameer adding past lives and past enemies. Terrific back story. It is now very eerie with a strong hint of a battle between good and evil about to begin.
It was a Game This latest chapter is a riveting read with mysterious people colliding and a message that Samantha will find them. How? They have disappeared!
Sailing Hemali's research behind this chapter is phenomenal. Kurt and his friends are out at sea and a Tsunami is coming towards them.
Captive Rosemary brings the story full circle and the last writer has to tell the story that set everything off. It is a perfect way to round the story out. Fantastic!
The Way Home Donna's chapter fills the forest with sounds, danger, accusation and risk.
Ghost Ship Next chapter to come.
Moonlight Chetna feels safe and one senses it is the first time in her lonely life she has felt that. What a heartwarming story that invites us into Chetna's world..
Gacgon the Sorceror Final chapter on its way! This is a fantastic story with hints of JRR Tolkein.
Author only serials
Fairy Blessings by Sumanda Maritz is a journey into a world where blessings by Fairies can change a village's fortunes. This story has magical energy.
NXT Flight by Jasmine. This is hilarious. Lasiandra's antics just get funnier with each chapter. This easily falls into Chick Lit genre and it is great reading.
Who to send your starters and chapters to.
If you have a starter send it to email@example.com
If you've written a chapter send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chapters for The Assault go to Anna Zhigareva E. email@example.com
Chapters for Cent-ed go to Tulika Saha. E. firstname.lastname@example.org
If we are to consider a serial for the next Anthology each writer needs to .
1. Make sure the chapters follow logically.
2. Make sure the chapter lands on the stylecheck™.
3. Make sure the chapter leaves the story open for the next writer to follow a thread. The last chapter is the only exception.
If you have a starter you would like us to consider, send it to email@example.com.
Up to 500 words and not less than 450 words. Any genre except erotica.
Fabulous reading from the Writers' Pad
You can store your writing on the Writers' Pad and it does not become public until you tick the publish. You may decide to never reveal your writing and that is fine.
Sumanda has written a very moving true account of how it was to grow up with a mother suffering from Schizophrenia in her article: Schizophrenia a Daughter's View
This is the first in a series.
Use the Writers' Pad to test reaction to your story. We don't edit these stories but please remember our policy of no erotica.
Chapter Writer winner
Everyone has a Story
We decided to choose this month's winner from writers featured in Everyone has a Story
Ken Burns' chapter two for The Choir wins the prize.
This is how his chapter starts:
Living up high in the mountains means a long journey for Kathy to get anywhere. She loves being far from town as there is a lot of peace and thinking time on the drive. The white Ford pick-up has a CD player so she can sing choir songs on the road. As an alto, this gives her time to do it alone and not get advice from anyone...
A chat about books
Because this month is dedicated to the Anthology month we decided to publish an extract from Everyone has a Story
Missing Pieces (starter by Rosemary Wakelin)
Chapter 9 by Gabrielle Burt
Even in the middle of the night, in a dingy interrogation room, Mr Okada was immaculate. His suit looked freshly pressed, his shirt snow-white. He dropped his head, characteristically steepled his fingers in front of his forehead. Only the deep frown lines betrayed his inner torment. Finally, he sucked in a loud gulp of air and looked up. His face was devoid of expfession.
"You're looking at me! In the picture. I'm who is missing. And that my unreliable alcoholic friend, is why I must reluctantly place my trust in you." Abruptly Okada got his feet and began pacing the shabby room as he spoke rapidly into his phone.
Max did not fully understand Japanese but understood enough to know that whatever the agent was discussing was serious. He tried to lick his lips to moisten them, but his tongue was dry and rough inside his mouth. He needed a drink.
"Any chance of a drink around here?"." He sounded pathetic but he did not care. A drink would restore his pride.
"Shut up!" Okada's eyes were flinty. "Pull yourself together. We have work to do and I need you sober!" He opened a graffiti covered door to their room and called "Burakkukohi."
Thirty seconds later, a light tap announced the arrival of two black coffees in badly chipped and stained mugs.
Then, leaning his elbows on the back of a chair Okada faced Max across the table.
"Drink your coffee, my friend. I am about to disclose one of my country's best kept secrets." He paused ...
Blogs across the Spectrum
Without the hard work of our editors, Everyone has a Story would not be able to hold its head up high in public.
This blog is all about the importance of editors to writers.
Your Editor is Your Best Friend
by Suraya Dewing
My editor is my best friend and she is remarkable.
This is because when she is editing my work she is not bothered about how I might feel when she fixes my mistakes or points them out. These mistakes can be continuity problems, grammatical slip-ups or any number of things I miss when I am in full creative flight.
So, in fact, she is my very best friend when she is not trying to be.
When my editor dispassionately points out my errors, she makes me look good to my readers. And that is what good friends do. They watch out for each other. She has my back!
If you, as a writer, don’t want to look stupid or unprofessional, make sure you have an editor like mine.
Read onWe recommend the blogs on our website.
Johnny Payne, whose book on Voice and Style has this to say:
The most anxious time of composition tends to be the beginning of a project when a writer faces a blank screen or paper. This feeling of uneasiness can sometimes carry over into each day of writing, multiplying itself like bad copies struck from a defective master, so that the prospect of getting going every morning in a fresh state of mind begins to seem insurmountably difficult. In his book Twenty Lines a Day Harry Mathews describes his preferred means of getting around this dilemma.
Like many writers, I often find starting the working day a discouraging prospect, one that I spend much energy avoiding. Four years ago I was reminded of an injunction Stendahl gave himself early in life: Twenty lines a day, genius or not. Stendahl was thinking about getting a book done. I deliberately mistook his words as a method for overcoming the anxiety of the blank page.*
*Writers Digest Books, F&W Publications, Inc., 1507 Dana Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 4507 (1995)
Keep dialogue short and take time describing the environment and the way your character is relating to it and the other people around him or her.
If you have any websites you’d like to recommend send us the link.