Friday, 16 January 2015

Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word.

“Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.” - Sarah Ockler

Well I would like to start this first post of the New Year with an apology. To my faithful blog readers, I am truly sorry for not blogging for over a month - perhaps more.  It breaks all the rules of those 'little but often' blog posts I was harping on about last year. 

I wish I could say had an excuse, but I can't. Basically, I've just been lazy. I can't even blame this lethargy on Christmas because too much time has passed. The fact of the matter is I think I'm burning out. For a couple of years now I have tried to stay on top of social media with goals and targets to hit. I installed Google Analytics on my webpage and I tried to tweet as often as I could. I even thought about setting some targets for 2015! But sadly this enthusiasm has left me. I feel a little guilty putting this statement out there for all to see, but that's what this blog is all about - my writing highs and lows (although I'm not sure which this is!). I can sense some of you shaking your heads at this admission. But I am sure there are quite a few writers and readers out there  that have found themselves in a slump of social media fatigue. 

So what have I decided to do? Well firstly, I am going to enjoy 2015 without immense pressure on myself to tweet, blog and what not  (I sound old!) and secondly I'm going to work on my three work-in-progress novels with some realistic deadlines for publication and perhaps start another.  You see I may not have been on-line but I have been furiously tapping away at the keyboard and making progress on my manuscripts.


  • Under the Coconut Tree - A Chupplejeep Mystery (my pride and joy) should be out in the spring. 
  • Poison in the Water - which I am currently re-writing (it's a painful process) should be out in the autumn and 
  • The Body in the Bath - A Chupplejeep Mystery (which I have written a skeleton first draft of) will be perfected by the end of the year.
  • I will also start the next Chupplejeep Mystery - Jetty Jalousie


H is under instruction to sort my website out too. You can see details on the first two books mentioned above here: www.marissadeluna.com

Details of  The Body in the Bath will be on there as soon as H gets organised. I've written the blurb and I'm as excited about this ms as I am about Under the Coconut Tree.

I will try and blog and I am sure as soon as my next novel is out I will find the motivation again to publicise my brand, but for now I'm just having some time out. It feels good saying it!  I will blog - when I can - I have some thoughts on the VAT changes, the demise of the blog (apparently people don't read them much anymore) and front covers! I will keep at my touch typing course. It's going slowly, but I think I will get there in the end (I'm still in the conscious incompetence phase) I will read to my hearts content (there is never enough time to read, is there?). I will try and improve my grammar (always on the list). I will see more of the world and I will write in my journal - a sumptuous brown leather bound one with a wrap. But mainly this year I  want to just be!  





Monday, 20 October 2014

Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul

Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul - Douglas MacArthur

I apologise now for the lack of blogging I have been doing of late. I have no excuses, life just seems to have taken over. That isn't to say that I have been sitting around doing nothing. I have enrolled in a touch typing thingy on-line. I say enrolled when in fact all I have done is registered so I can keep a track of my progress. Its free and it's called Typing Study. If like me you type entire novels with two fingers, give it a go. I'm spending half my lunch hour doing it and so far Im on lesson three. Hopefully by lesson 15 I'll be typing whilst looking out of the window or some such… and I won't get RSI, preventing my writing career when it finally takes off. 

Well today I am apprehensive. I feel like I should pack in the whole writing malarkey. Perhaps it's because I'm scared. Tomorrow my writing group is critiqueing my next novel: Poison in the Water and I think it's going to be brutal. It's kind of making me wonder why I spend hours a day writing. It's making me want to employ a ghost writer. Quite frankly it's making me want to give up. But You just can't be a quitter if you want good things to happen to you. Don't they say you give up right before the good stuff happens? (I'm sure Ive seen this at least a dozen times on Pinterest). Anyway it's just one of those days. I'm sure I'll be over it by tomorrow (well maybe the month after the critique).

 I keep telling myself we all have to start somewhere and I shouldn't be too down on myself - good things are happening. For instance last week was a good week. BBC Radio Oxford called me because they want me to do a call in on the morning show about self publishing. Did you get that? They called me… I was happy. The happiness was soon chased away by fear (If it's a call in, and I can't see someone will my mind drift? Will my mind go blank? - This happens to me a lot on the phone. (I find the more I write the less articulate I am verbally - Please tell me there are other writers out there like that?).

And then on the 16th October I went to the Society of Author's Writers in Oxford Event in Balliol college. It was a nice evening and I got to mingle and talk to other authors. I've just realised I should have taken a picture for my blog or my website!!! Always wise after the event. I've also sent out a submission for my first Chupplejeep novel: Under the Coconut Tree! Keep your fingers crossed. And I've hit 40,000 words on my next Chupplejeep book: The Body in the Bath.  It's going well - well it was before I hit this crisis of confidence. 

Until next time...





Monday, 29 September 2014

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve - J K Rowling

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve - J K Rowling

Well people it has been a while. I have started writing  the second of the Chupplejeep books. This one is called The Body in the Bath. I have just completed my grammar course, and I have signed up to another year at Abingdon Writers. Speaking of which, the other day when I was at the group meeting someone said they had read an article saying the popularity of social media is declining. Now, I haven't read this myself but I could see the point they were making. What goes up must come down etc. recently I wrote a blog post on social media for authors, but I didn't look into whether this phenomenon of tweeting what you had for breakfast and the likes would last. Apparently people are tiring of blogs and the constant stream of updates from authors. I know I, myself, am tiring of Twitter and how many other author blogs do I read?  Even Facebook has had its day so they say. The other day in a meeting someone said the majority of Facebook users are middle aged! Well I suppose that was bound to happen. But all this talk of declining social media makes me wonder, what is next?

I have been extremely lame this year in marketing my novels. And I'll be honest and say that sales have fallen (for Goa Traffic at least). I really need to do something but I'm finding it all rather laborious, especially when I have Chupplejeep on to his next case and with a wedding to plan as well. I must find some motivation soon.

As well as all this pondering, and watching box sets (which is not doing anything for my writing career) I've also been thinking about writing. Which got me thinking - how important is it to spend you time thinking about writing? - Again I think someone mentioned this at my last writing group meeting. Well for me it's terribly important to spend time thinking about writing. When I'm out and about doing something mundane, having conversations in my head between characters (and I hope all writers do this and it's not just me losing the plot) great ideas for new scenes come into my mind. More often than not I fail to write them down, but I visualize them and in doing so they get lodged in my memory only to arrive in my mind later when I am actually writing a scene. I find all this thinking extremely helpful in putting a skeleton of a book together and encourage you to think about writing more.



Friday, 5 September 2014

Finding the time to write.

Finding the time to write. 

Recently, a couple of new acquaintances have asked me ‘Where do you find the time to write?’ and I have to admit I’m often stumped for an answer because I don’t know how I manage to find the time to write, but yet I do.  Like many of you writers out there I have a full time job. I’m not a brain surgeon or anything taxing like that but, at times, my job (project management in property development) can be stressful. It’s also largely computer based. So after a day of looking at the computer sometimes I don’t really want to switch a computer on at home. There are days when I get home so tired I don’t have the energy to write and so I don’t. And I don’t write every day either - H wouldn’t be too impressed with that (you have to admit it would be a little unfair). Because of my passion for food I have to force myself to go to the gym a couple of times a week and then there is the business of cooking decent meals every night (again with the food – I don’t like leftovers so I cook every day. I’m also not keen on pasta – so you’re talking a good effort every night, so that we go to bed happy – Nothing puts me in a bad mood like a rubbish dinner does and I quite like cooking.) And finally there is also the business of cleaning. I categorise this chore with the gym. I don’t really want to do it and I’m not good at it either. It’s a slog from start to finish, and although H is pretty good with helping out, it still takes up quite a bit of my post work time.

So when do I write? Well I limit myself to a Wednesday after work when I leave work a little early, and have the house to myself for a couple of hours. I write quickly – I can write 5000 words in an evening (they may not be great words – they need a lot of editing to get up to a readable first draft stage - but they are words). I write when the football is on or when H is out. Basically, I write when I can snatch and hour here or there. I never used to write on weekends because we were always out and about, but now I occasionally do. But unlike the gym or cleaning the house, writing is not a chore. When I sit down to write I get lost in my fictional world. I don’t want music on or the TV. I don’t feel the need to snack or to catch up on The Mindy Project or Scandal (The later has taken at least 22 of my precious writing hours over the last month). When I write I am completely in the zone. All I need is my open manuscript,  a pen, several note books around me, easy access to the internet for that all important research and a glass of water (writing makes me thirsty for some reason). Sometimes I get so caught up in a story that I don’t realise I’ve been in front of the computer for hours without looking up from the screen.  I also try and use my time wisely (I guess working in project management has honed my time management skills). Some lunch hours are for finding good deals on Expedia, but some are used for book research, checking out author blogs, reading about how to improve my writing, doing grammar courses, and blogging.


The crux of it is, and I’m sure most writers will agree with me here, when you are a writer writing is in your blood. You have to do it. You want to do it, and so you find the time to write. Whether it’s waking up early or going to bed late or even taking a day’s holiday to work on that final chapter – when you want to write you find a way.  

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Half my life is an act of revision.

Half my life is an act of revision.
- John Irving

I hope you liked DB Martin's press release about Patchwork man. I've read the book and cant wait for the second in the series! I recently read that you should blog little and often - actually I re-read this but conveniently it slipped my mind. As an author, keeping up with Social Media is hard work! I've not excelled myself this year, but I have nearly hit my target for twitter followers (admittedly it was a low target). 

So what have I been doing? Well I am noticing that as I get older I have less energy. I don't write as quick or as much as I used to and I get tired easily. All this in just a year - what else does age have in store for me? Do other people out tehre feel the same? I have also become addicted to Scandal. I'm only on series two, but it really is addictive. And...wait for it...I have nearly finished my grammar course. Can you tell the difference in this blog post? 

Well I am still to complete the punctuation section, but I think my writing has improved. Not bad for £60! Next is a course I found on line about FGM and honour killing! I think it'll come in handy for Chupplejeep. I have also nearly finished reading a book on Criminology and the first draft of Poison in The water is almost ready for review by Abingdon Writers! Yay! and my publishers!  This is good news because it means I can get stuck in to my next Chupplejeep Mystery: The Body in the Bath. 

So there you have it - a short and sweet blog post! Until next time, people. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Guest blog post for Patchwork Man by D. B Martin!



Introducing D. B Martin and her new novel: Patchwork Man! Todays guest blog post on the Coffee Stained Manuscript is a press release for DB Martin's new novel, Patchwork man. I have read this book so I can personally recommend it. Its complex, fast paced with enough twists and turns to keep you hooked! It is now available on Amazon.

 

This is Mockingbird for a new generation.

When Michael Gove championed the outlawing of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' from the English GCSE curriculum, he claimed to be intent on ensuring ‘a more nationally centred syllabus’ of ‘works originally written in English’. But the message of the book still inspired novelist D.B. Martin to make Atticus Finch the idol of her fallen hero, English barrister Lawrence Juste, in the first of a pithy and compelling mystery trilogy dealing with deception, murder and blackmail masked by respectability and privilege.

With ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ being released as an e-book for the first time, the novel, ‘Patchwork Man’, now released by Martin follows in the wake of Harper Lee's classic by celebrating the principles of Atticus Finch in this very English contemporary fiction.

Patchwork Man is a psychological thriller as fast-paced as any of Dan Brown's, whilst evocatively recreating the chaotic and poignant childhood that has led Juste, the patchwork man himself, to chaos. Lawrence Juste is the QC with a conscience - privileged, reputable; perfect. But Lawrence hasn't always been who he is now. When he is glaringly in the public eye after his enigmatic wife is killed in an apparently random hit and run, he could do with his hidden past surfacing like a hole in the head. Unfortunately the past has a way of finding its way back to you, just like betrayal, and his dead wife has helpfully left him a sinister resume of his... 

Martin writes adult and YA fiction with a specific intent in mind. She says, ‘We learn through what we read. It explains the world to us, and helps us come to terms with the more difficult parts of it that we don’t know how to deal with. That’s particularly important for young people, struggling with issues of conscience versus peer pressure, but without the experience to base choices on.’

With Patchwork Man now released and its sequel Patchwork People following in September 2014, Martin obviously has a lot more to say in Harper Lee terms. And Lee's comment (headlined) about the eBook release of To Kill a Mockingbird equally applies to Martin's book.

Martin adds, ‘Harper Lee’s message was as much about prejudice versus principles as about finding the right way to deal with that. It was – and is – inspired.’

Martin's websites are www.debrahmartin.co.uk for adult fiction and www.lily-stuart.co.uk for YA fiction. If you'd like more information, to schedule an interview with D.B. Martin, or receive a review copy of the book, please e-mail info@debrahmartin.co.uk

Friday, 1 August 2014

A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily...

A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. - Junot Diaz.

I came across the above post on Pinterest and it really struck a cord with me. I thought  I would share this with my fellow writers out there. I think it sums us up perfectly. And I say this as sales for Goa Traffic plummet. Was it something I said? I can't really see a reason for the steady drop in sales over the last couple of months. GT has been selling well for some time now so why the sudden drop? It could be because I'm not really doing much marketing and when I am I'm concentrating on The Bittersweet Vine. It could be because I have sold over 3000 copies and perhaps those who were gonna buy it bought it. Although that doesn't really make sense. Surely there is a stat somewhere saying there is a new Kindle reader every second. I should look into this. I should increase my time marketing. I really have done zilch this year. I should be doing a lot of things.

The good news is that I am nearly at the punctuation module of my grammar course! Hurrah! Perhaps hits on my blog will go up as well. The second good bit of news is that I completed my tax return. That is always a mission. This year it was surprisingly okay. The third bit of news (I'm not going to say good because it's so-so) is that I am more than half way in editing Poison in the Water. I have about 30,000 words to go and then it can be submitted to my publisher. I can't wait to get it done. Im hoping by the end of August it will be ready. A bit behind my original deadline but it will do.  I think Im getting better at the editing process as well. I am not finding it too much of a slog. Perhaps its because I'm setting myself more realistic deadlines and taking my time with it.

Care to share any editing tips?! Do so here or tweet me @marissadeluna