Vanity Unfair: When Do Publishing Companies Become Unscrupulous?

Hello, my sweets!

How are you all?  Hopefully good–and if you haven’t been good, I hope you’re feeling better.  Anyway, today’s hot topic is all about vanity publishing.  Since a lot of us are aspiring writers, it’d make our hearts leap if we ever see that a publishing company has taken interest in our submission/s.  We’d think that we finally hit the jackpot and our eyes sparkle at the possibility of making it big, baby!

Here’s where I say the big, dreaded ‘BUT’: What if there are publishing presses out there that are taking advantage of writers?  It turns out, I learned that some companies are doing this, and specifically, they target writers who either a) want to make it as a published author or b) are jaded and are tired of facing rejection after rejection.  This is where the vanity publisher comes in.

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TABL Turns Two!: Uncut Ramble Ahead

Hey, hey, hey everyone!

Today’s the day that The Avid Book Louse turns two!  Hurray!  So, to honour TABL’s second birthday, I decided to spice this blog up by recording a video for you all.  I’m thinking that I may occasionally upload videos on WordPress just to add a little more versatility to the content that is being shared here.  Feel free to watch it and enjoy the awkwardness (or cringe).

[Warning: Aussie accent.  I’m sorry if I’m not speaking clearly or repeating myself a lot!] 

Speaking of birthdays, I’ve also got to help my mother prepare for her birthday party tomorrow, so I have to get back to that.

But don’t you worry your cute little head, I’ll be back to writing sooner than you think!

Ciao!

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I’m Still Here!

Hello everyone!

As you’ve read in the title, this is just a quick post to let you know that I’m still around on WordPress.  TABL has not been abandoned, but as you can see, there hasn’t been a post since March.

Truth be told, in the past several months, there have been a few things that have kept me occupied–family matters that couldn’t be ignored.  Bear in mind, these matters are still ongoing but I’m still (agonisingly slowly) writing up a new post for this blog.  Please expect it in the coming weeks.

So I’m sorry for the pretty long hiatus.  I hope you understand.  I’ll be hanging around like I used to soon!  Miss you all and can’t wait to be properly writing here again and seeing all your content too!

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Looking Back: A Word on My English Degree

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L-R: Sam, Ashleigh, Evan, and your girl.  We were all a little giggly here because prior to this picture being taken, we had a conversation about how the robes made us all look like Voldemort (and Evan was pretending to hide a wand in his cloak).

Hello everyone!  Hope everything’s fine and dandy with you all.

(I want to make an apology to WordPress because all the issues I’ve been having the past few posts had little to do with them and everything to do with me being an ignorant fool.  A bit of googling reveals that all the formatting issues I’ve had involved weirdness that occurs when you cut and paste text into WP’s editor.  So, sorry for all the bashing!  Suppose the only thing to do is to work with this flaw and type my post directly in.)

Anyway, I’d like to share to you that I officially graduated on the 20th of March, and all I can say is that my graduation was probably one of the best days of my life so far.  In honour of studying English at uni, I figured that it was probably time for me to write a sentimental post regarding this rollercoaster ride experience.  So brace yourselves for a fairly long-ish post and let’s get going!

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The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a ****: A Review

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Ah, Facebook.  Something I truly don’t give a flying … about.

(I swear that WordPress’ editor is trolling me right now.  The next post I’ll publish will be a rant on my phone regarding this stupid bloody editor!) 

Hey!  Yes you, reading this post right now.

Do you cuss like a sailor?  Do you like narrators that break the fourth wall to talk to you while they cuss like sailors?  Do you like self-help books with narrators that break the fourth wall to talk to you while they cuss like sailors?  No?  Well, this book isn’t for you.

The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a ****
by Sarah Knight (I’ll shorten to TLM) is a self-help book that does exactly what it says on the tin (or rather, the cover).  This book intended to be a parody of Marie Kondo’s The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, but Knight’s version aims to teach us to tidy up our minds, by giving less f%$#s about things that aren’t that important to us.

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On the Internet’s Seemingly Favourable Writing Program, Scrivener

[Disclaimer: This ain’t a paid presentation!  I’m getting exactly $0.00 for this post.]

How’s it going, guys?  We’re now into February (almost March), and before we know it, it’ll be bloody Christmas again!

Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with the writing program Scrivener.  Initially, I was a tad bit sceptical of the program because I kept seeing praise for it online in places like Reddit and writing forums, and I thought that there seems to be some sort of annoying circle jerk around it.  However, I’m currently on a trial version of Scrivener, and I’m definitely planning on buying the full version.  So here on this post, I’ll be sharing my experience (so far).

Well then, what is Scrivener?

Scrivener is a writing program that is specifically designed to aid writers to formulate and draft their writing.  Although I’m currently using the program for my current project (a fiction novel), it can be used to write essays, short stories, non-fiction books, screenplays, you name it.  You could use it for basically anything.

How is it any different to using Word?

For starters, I personally think that Scrivener helps me be a bit more organised with my writing.  Before using this program, I used to have a few related documents–one doc being the manuscript, another for character profiles, and another for ideas and notes.  With Scrivener, everything is in one place.  The research, multimedia files, the character profiles, and any other notes or miscellaneous things are all there; I don’t have to keep on switching between word documents.

Okay, so we’re only hearing good things so far… is there anything that you don’t like about Scrivener?

Yes.  To a newbie, trying to figure out the cogs and wheels of the program is quite a challenge.  Usually, programs are intuitive and user-friendly, but Scrivener isn’t like that.  What I did was look up tutorials on YouTube to get the gist of the program, and then I used it the way I wanted to.  So yeah, it’s kind of complicated at first, and it may be discouraging to some other users.  Additionally, there may be too many features– many other writers online seem to use these features all at once while claiming that they’re all useful, but sometimes I find these features a little distracting and I end up not using some of them at all i.e. side notes.  Like the old cliché goes, less is more.

How is Scrivener helping you as a writer?

I think that there’s a slight improvement with my narrative writing skills, and one way of it helping me is with characterisation.  There are templates to character profiles (or y’know, there are many other templates online that you can tinker with), but I like the template provided because it helps me make a character that’s much more “deeper”, rather than a cardboard cut-out of a trope (I admit that characters in my old works were like this, and I’m planning on writing about that in a future post).  This may also be some wack, psychological thing, but I’ve noticed that I’m starting to get my groove back as a (n amateur) writer.  I think I’ve said in a previous post that my passion and motivation has kind of dwindled down in the past few years or so, but now I find myself working on my story almost every day, simultaneously with my Business Administration coursework.

Oh ffs.  Did Scrivener save a bunch of orphans from a burning building?

Yes.  Yes it did.

Anyway, the overall outlook on Scrivener for me is positive.  I like it because it has been a clever, useful, and motivational tool for my writing.  Also, this goes for every other program that exists: use it however you want to use it.  There are guides out there written by others on how to use Scrivener, but I found that their methods don’t really mesh well with me.  By no means is this post a shit on Microsoft Word, because I still use it to write documents such as reports, and it has a number of useful features unique to it, that Scrivener lacks.

This review piece might sound very circle-jerky and like a paid ad/review/similar BS, but I swear on the little bit of earth that’ll be my grave in about a hundred years’ time, this is an honest review with no outer influence.

So, what do you think of Scrivener?  Love it?  Hate it?  What’s your experience?  Leave your comments down below, and I’ll see you in the next post.  Keep chewin’ through those books!

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Can We Really Avoid Clichés Though?

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Nawwmygod this image has nothing to do with this blog post but look how cute they are (ignoring the fact that they could shred us to ribbons if we made them angry)

[Edit: I accidentally reverted this post back to a draft, because the editor was being super-glitchy, and I had a bit of a misadventure when I tried the “new editor”, but luckily I’m back to the classic one.  A word of advice, do not switch to the new editor or else your blog will be cursed!]

So, here’s another thing I want to get off my chest.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about this topic because it’s something we all deal with, whether we read or write a story.  We pick up a book, begin reading it, and as we take in the plot, we think, ‘well, I’m sure I’ve read this before’.  Sometimes, if we’re sassy enough, we roll our eyes.  We have times where we have an idea for a story and begin plotting.  Then, halfway through development, we go, ‘aw shucks, this isn’t original at all!’.  For instance, I’m planning on writing a romance novel (something that isn’t mindf%$#ery for once), and while the love interest isn’t a sexy, chiselled, 6-packed bajillionaire, he still has inner demons, and the trials that my lovebird protagonists go through aren’t exactly original either (no spoilers!).  So this was one trigger to my exploration of clichés in literature.
 
So this brings me to the question: can we really avoid clichés and certain tropes in literary works?  As avid literature fans, we all desire a breath of fresh air when we search for new books to read.  I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and the like, but then, there comes a point where I can predict a plot twist or pinpoint the true villain of the story (usually a wolf in sheep’s skin).  Are these devices repetitive?  Most certainly.  Are they boring?  Not necessarily.
 
Sometimes I feel that clichés and tropes can be inevitable at times.  It’s almost as if some genres are born to have particular tropes associated with them.  I suppose clichés work, and they sell.  Not only are the tropes and cliches within the story repetitive, so are the book covers!  In romance, there’s a woman in the arms of a very sexy (and often shirtless) man, and in crime and thrillers, there is either a dark corridor/alley or a silhouette of a person, and in sci-fi, there’s usually alien landscapes with a celestial body of some sort in the background (often a photoshopped Saturn).  Perhaps the reason that book covers are designed in a specific way so that they can appeal to their intended audience.  Though to me, I think that most typical romance covers look tacky, but that’s my own personal taste (minimalist covers are my favourites).  But at least they scream ‘ROMANCE’ to the fans of romantic stories.  Vice versa for other genres.
 
The main argument that I want to put forth is that no, we can’t always avoid certain clichés and tropes when we’re reading or writing particular genres of literature.  Despite critiquing the tropes/clichés, I’m also guilty of using some of them myself (ergo, I’m a HYPOCRITE).  I suppose the reason that we probably get a little too nit-picky with either our own or someone else’s works is because we want ORIGINALITY™.  But, no story is truly original, do you agree?  Stories do follow a certain type of formula to some extent, and we’re kind of pushing pressure on ourselves to try and write something that’s completely out of left field.
 
But I also want to say it won’t hurt to use them, and people are going to be peeved at clichés and stereotypes whether we like it or not, and we can’t impress everyone.  Yeah, they can be annoying and overused, but perhaps they could work if they are written well.  Additionally, is it really that fair to compare books to others in the same genre?
 
I’d like to hear your thoughts, and ask:
  • What do you think of the common clichés and tropes present in literature?  You can talk about genre-specific ones too.
  • What’s your favourite cliché or trope?  What is your least?
  • Have you ever added your own twist to an overused cliché/trope?  How did you do this?
  • Or, has an author whose works you’ve read twisted them around?
Anyway, now’s the time to say toodles, and have a nice day, wonderful reader!
 
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The Body: A Review

train tracks

I was going to insert a screenshot from Stand By Me, but… copyright.  So enjoy these train tracks instead.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

Or, it could be the afternoon or the evening, wherever you are on this planet.  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever you do during the festive season.  Even though I said in the last post that I was going to abandon this blog for a while, I now have some downtime.

Anyway, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but…this particular review is way overdue!  In fact, there hasn’t been a book review on here for ages!  Well, I’ve been working on this review for quite a while now, but life gets in the way (I was really preoccupied with assignments and Christmas).  Sometimes there are times that I don’t have the motivation or the time to write, and frankly, I value quality over quantity.  I’d rather a decent post once in a while than shitty posts almost every day for the sake of posting.  Anyway, that’s just me.  I’ll stop rambling now.

So, let’s get right to the review, shall we?

The Body is the third novella in Stephen King’s quartet Different Seasons.  As the majority of us know, it spawned the movie Stand By Me (if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour).  Personally, out of all the novellas in this collection, The Body would have to be my favourite.  Out of the four, this one was the least dark, albeit death being a major theme.  The Body takes us back to the summer of 1960 and is narrated by Gordon Lachance, a writer who fondly remembers that summer.

(incoming spoilers under the cut)

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I’m sorry.

Dear beloved readers,

I know I’ve promised more content, but I have to be honest and tell you all that I’ve got too many commitments going on right now.  I’ve started studying a new online course which is taking up a lot of my time, and I’ve also been in the process of serious job hunting and planning for the future.  Because of this, I haven’t been on here for quite a while, nor have I been reading a lot either (if you don’t count module content).

As for now, I’m going to have to put TABL on another break.  While it’s so much fun being here and writing blog posts, I have no choice but to prioritise my activities, and TABL is further down the list.  For this, I just want to say sorry to you all.

I hope you all understand.  This isn’t goodbye–I want to continue blogging, but you probably won’t see any more content on here until after the new year.

Wishing you all a splendid festive season, wherever you are in the world.  Continue reading and blogging, and I appreciate you all!   See you next year!

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Mojito Mayhem (except it’s not really mayhem, it’s an update)

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Throwback to when I had a social life… and no, I did not drink all three of these mojitos.

Hey everyone!

How’s it going?  Hopefully fine.  Anyway, I’m here with another quick update regarding the blog that I’d rather write about in a separate post than to drone about it in my next review.

I just want to say that TABL has gotten plastic surgery!  I’ve changed the theme yet again to a more minimalist yet fancy design (the last theme I changed it to made this blog look like a homepage for a hipster burger joint), and I’m now using my own custom domain, so sayonara “.wordpress.com” extension!  Personally, using your own domain makes your site look less amateur and more professional.  Even though blogging is a part-time activity for me, I still want my site to appear sleek, prim, and appealing to the eye (and potential employers/business partners).  So now I can say that I’ve got my own lot on this virtual block!  Please visit it when you have time!

Also, I’ve updated the disclaimer page.  It’s now reworded and divided into sections.  So hopefully, Louse here won’t get into any trouble anytime soon.  Please have a squiz at that in your spare time.

Last but not least, I have also added a ‘Buy Me a Mojito’ section to my sidebar.  If you like and support my content, you’re more than welcome to treat me to a ‘mojito’.  Buying a mojito shows your appreciation for this blog and is a means of encouragement.  What I do here is for free and for both our entertainment.  Truthfully, I’d rather do things this way than to plaster ads all over this site (no judgement to other blogs making revenue this way).  Technically, this blog is now a way to earn a little revenue, but payments are voluntary from your end and this is not a way for me to be lazy and rely on it as income; so there’s no need to serve me SpongeBob’s ‘GET A JOB’ soup.

Proceeds go to keeping this blog alive and kicking (and maybe a real mojito once in a while), so if you want TABL to stick around on the internet (and if you’ve got some money to spare), then, by all means, go for it!

That being said, I’ll be back with you soon with The Body review.  Keep on reading, folks!

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