Author Archives: Ruth Ann Nordin

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out http://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.

Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer Got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”

Ruth Ann Nordin:

This is scary, folks. All self-published authors are vulnerable to this. The post is long, but it is a must read.

Anyone (for any reason) can decide to post a DCMA Takedown Notice on your book and get it removed from Amazon, Smashwords, etc. This author has registered her copyright with the US Copyright Office, but this has not been good enough, which is especially alarming because that should be our ultimate protection from stuff like this.

At the time I’m writing this (March 3, 2015), Smashwords has put her book back up. Amazon, however, has not. I’m going to keep track of what is happening.

This is something that should make us all sit up and take notice of what is going on. More importantly, we need to band together and support each other when stuff like this happens. I urge you to share this with other authors. The more people we tell, the better our chances are of protecting more authors (and even ourselves) from stuff like this happening.

My thoughts and prayers are with Becca during this horrible time.

Originally posted on The Active Voice:

Okay, I’ve got a story. It’s a sort of scary one. I think independent/self-publishing authors need to know about it, and telling it carefully and correctly is also important for my own situation, so I’m going to take my time and lay it all out in order.

Pressed for time? You can skip to the bottom for the TL;DR summation.


On Friday, February 27, 2015, I noticed that my bookmarked Amazon.com link to my first novel, Nolander, was yielding, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” I went to my Amazon dashboard and discovered the book had been blocked.

In my spam folder, I discovered an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing arm, informing me that someone had sent in a DMCA notice. In response, Amazon had summarily blocked Nolander from sale.

“DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”…

View original 3,853 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Beta Readers

In the video below, Janet Syas Nitsick and I talk about beta readers.  I’m also writing down the main points below for your convenience.

A beta reader is a person who reads your book before it’s published.  A beta reader is a person who can look at the overall story and give you their impression of it.  But they are not an editor.  The editor is the one who goes in and polishes it up so it’s ready to be published.

So what makes a beta reader good?

1.  He makes deadlines.

You should have a schedule set out on when you’re doing your first draft, when a beta reader goes over your book, when you add their input, when you give it to an editor, and when you publish it.  When you treat your writing like a business, you will have deadlines that you need to make.  In order to better make those deadlines, you need to give the beta reader a deadline.  A good beta reader will have the book in by the deadline or let you know, in advance, if he can’t make it.

2.  He knows the subject matter.

For example, someone who is familiar with horses would make a good beta reader for your book where you use horses a lot.

3. He enjoys the genre you’re writing.

Ideally, the beta reader will be a fan of the subject you’re writing.  They need to read your book as your target audience would in order to best help you.

4.  He needs to be honest (but nice).

You need to be able to trust this person.  While it’s important the person tells you what’s good, they should also be comfortable with letting you know what you can do to improve the story.  But do pay attention to how they tell you the stuff they didn’t like.  Saying, “What happened?  Did your kid write this part for you?” is different from saying, “I would like to see more angst in your hero during this scene.”

How do you find this good beta reader?

1. When starting out, you pretty much have to go to people you know and trust.

These can be friends, family, or other writers.  The key is that you trust them to be honest about your work (as explained in #4 above).

2. Social Media

You want to broaden out your search and find readers in your genre who are avid readers.  They make for the best people to beta read books because they love to read and know what your target audience wants.

You can find these people on various social media outlets.  I prefer Facebook for social interaction, but there’s also Twitter, Google +, discussion boards, blogs, and other places I’m probably missing.  The key is to establish relationships.  Don’t go in with the attitude you’re going to get something from someone.  Be a participant.  Engage.  Be friendly.  Give something of value to the group.  Share and exchange ideas and information.  Talk about your favorite books and authors.  Be yourself.  Sooner or later, you’ll come across a couple people who will become your friend.

3.  Another way is to let readers come to you and offer to beta read.  

People who love your books are often more than happy to have a part in helping you get your book into the world.  These are the perfect beta readers because they share your vision for your work.  They already love it.  They are in tune with you and have the same goal you do.

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So those are the tips Janet and I came up with to finding good beta readers.  Anyone else have any tips they’d like to add?

Categories: General Writing, Writing as a Business | Tags: | 22 Comments

The Emotionally Engaging Character: The Key to Telling a Compelling Story

A compelling story is one which grabs the reader and doesn’t let go.  It makes it difficult for the reader to put down so they can do something else, and when the reader does put it down, the reader is often thinking about the story and anxious to get back to it.  These are books that readers remember long after they read the book.  The reason for this is because they connected with the characters in the book on an emotional level.  The character’s journey became their journey.

Telling a story is one thing.  The basic structure involves normal life, a desire for something, a conflict that prevents the character from getting it, a climax, and a resolution.  The bare bones of every story isn’t exciting.  What makes the story exciting is the character who embarks on this journey from where they were in the beginning to where they’ll be at the end.

If the character is emotionally engaging, the reader will experience everything the character does.  If the character is anxious, the reader will get anxious.  If the character is laughing, the reader should at least be smiling.  The reader is going to forget they’re reading the book and become so engulfed in the story that they become the character.  When this happens, the story is compelling.

So how does someone create an emotionally engaging character?

1.  Let the character guide the story.

Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, the character can lead you as you write your story.  This is where you let the character tell you where to go instead of telling the character what he is going to do.  If you feel like the story is going in a different way than what you expected, let it.  This is a cue the character is letting you know the character wants something else.

2.  If the story stalls, chances are likely the story is going in a direction that isn’t right for the character.

I used to think when my writing stalled, I needed to press through it because I was bored of the story or simply tired.  After several times of pushing through and realizing about 10-15,000 words later I had messed up the story, I’ve learned the reason the story stalled was because I was forcing it to go in a way the character didn’t want.

Sometimes you have to take a break from the story and work on something else.  When you stall, that’s the best way I’ve found to deal with it.  Forcing it seems to only make things worse.  But when I work on something else, it frees my subconscious mind to work through whatever issue was making my story go in the wrong direction.  Then, one day when I’m not expecting it, the answer will come to me.  This is when the character is back in the driver’s seat, and I’ve gotten back on board again.

3.  Focus only on the characters whose point of view you’re giving.

I don’t recommend doing more than a couple characters’ points of view.  Pick the main ones and only do those, unless you’re only sticking in one point of view through the entire book.  Trying to cram in too many points of view will dilute the power of your story.  I typically do two points of view, though I have done up to four.  I do three or four sparingly, though.  For your reader to best connect with a character, they need to spend most of their time in that character’s point of view.  So pick the main one or two you need and make the story revolve around them.  If you do another point of view, do is sparingly and only when you need it to be the most effective.

4.  Be open to a wide range of emotions.

In order for your character to be emotionally engaging, you have to feel emotions–and feel them deeply.  Don’t be afraid of them.  A writer needs to be intimately connected to their feelings if they are going to create characters the reader can get engaged in.   The best characters are the ones that make the readers feel.  You can’t create those kind of characters if you don’t engage with your own feelings.

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A compelling story is one that will be remembered because of how it made the reader feel.  And along this line of thought, I want to close with this quote by Maya Angelou: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  So when you write, make your reader feel something they’ll remember long after they finish the book.

Categories: Characters & Viewpoints, storytelling | Tags: | 19 Comments

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