Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The best time for planning a book...

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  ~Agatha Christie

I did it- I finally finished editing my manuscript for The Bittersweet Vine yesterday. I was at it till eleven but at least its done before the festive season. I think it needs another three edits at least before I contemplate sending it off to publishers. I want to see how Goa Traffic does on the Kindle (new edition) before I contemplate uploading TBV. But basically it needs an edit and after the expense of the Goa Traffic Edit I want to give traditional publishing a go first. I think that would provide an all rounder experience for me.

The problem with Goa Traffic is the marketing - once I have exhausted Facebook, Twitter, Linked in and this blog- and I have sent countless press releases where do I go? Do I look to start spending money on advertising – would it be cost effective given that I have to re-coup the costs of the publishing in the first place (back to the editing I guess)

What are my options? I mull this over for a few minutes and realise – I need to put in some leg work- you hear sayings everywhere that say 1) good things come to those who wait and 2) its not worth having if it is easy- you know what I mean … I know deep down that I have to start approaching book stores- and what happened to the retail buyers that I was supposed to call? A big fat nothing- is this because I am lazy? Is this because I inherently feel this is not my department? I am a mere writer not a marketer – in fact marketing was my worst subject back in business school- but hang on I do have a degree in business studies- surely Goa Traffic and marketing a book is just business.

My whole life (i’m talking grown up here) I wanted my own business. Right now I am considering training as a life coach so that I can set up my own business life coaching people – yes there is a market- I am a good listener- yes I actually think I would be quite good at it. But after Iyla Grace (a handbag company a friend and I started that did not get off the ground) I know just how hard having a business can be… It needs your time and dedication. Where I am finding it difficult to fit in a full time job (that is getting busier and busier) writing (and the laborious process of editing – it takes more time than actually writing the first draft –plot and all) and reading – I cant lose that – to be a writer and not read- well that’s not right is it? Plus giving time to my family (people always want time remember that and you have to give it- writing is a solitary hobby and you have to break away from that sometimes)

So I now have a dilemma- basically my plan was to train as a life coach this year so that by April next year (yes a month before the dreaded birthday) I would be able to start my own business in Life coaching – I’m thinking a website … etc but it is going to be hard work and do I have time to train to get a diploma in life coaching as well as doing all the things mentioned above. Will I fit it in with my job? I mean lets be honest I am not going to be able to give up my job and be a life coach full time. And then the marketing of GT and the editing of TBV willl go down the drain but I have to consider this. Writing – my one true passion – yes I now have my own business you could say- the business of writing- I have Goa Traffic under my belt and even Yeoman Publishing, a facility for my publishing my own works.

Ohhhh dilemmas…

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

brilliant read for any budding authors out there

One of my best friends sent this link to me ... a bit of writing inspiration:

http://38.118.71.170/entertainment/archive/2011/11/writing-advice-from-historys-fastest-most-prolific-authors/247913/#slide1

enjoy!

If I dont write to empty my mind, I go mad

If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.  ~Lord Byron

So Why do you write?

To entertain
To make people think
To Inspire

Your story will fit the needs of a certain group but often writers don’t think about why they write – they just do it because they love it- Think about it… Just for one moment.

I write for all of the above. With GT I wanted to entertain people as well as highlight a huge issue that happens in developing countries. I also wanted to make people think- what if they were in the shoes of the protagonist- would they do the same thing?

Maybe Goa Traffic was not to inspire – well I hope it inspires people to pick up a pen and write but it is not a story about inspiration.

With TBV the story is largely to entertain – it is after all a psychological thriller and it will highlight some issues surrounding siblings and interpersonal relationships between friends and lovers. – Most of us can identify with falling for you friends mate or fighting with your sister. Sisters and brothers can sometimes be worlds apart. I like my readers to identify with little traits of my characters. If they identify with them they will believe more in the story and really feel the plight of the protagonist.

With GT several people asked me if I based the character on them – to me it was a bit of a compliment- there was some sort of recognition.

Anyway after my last blog, here is a short back story of one of my characters from TBV – so if this happened to Leanne- how would this reflect on her personality now that she is in her mid twenties?

  The Last Glass of Squash – Leanne’s Tale
She was only ten when it happened. It was late. Her  bedside clock told her in bright red that it was three in the morning. Did she need to go or didn’t she? She should never have had that glass of squash just before bed. She didn’t even want it but the last inch of syrup in the bottle called out to her.

“Don’t touch that squash, its mine” Suki had said as she answered the telephone. She held the plastic burger up to her ear and smiled.

Leanne saw her chance then. Why should she be the one to get the last of everything? Just because Suki was the eldest she thought she could do whatever she pleased.  It was time that Leanne made a stand after all her father had told her that it was time for her to fight her own battles the last time she had complained about her big sister’s behaviour.

Leanne made her drink and defiantly walked past her sister trying to provoke a reaction. Her mother rolled her eyes.  Leanne smirked. There was not much Suki could do whilst she was on the telephone. 

“ur, hmm” Leanne made like she was clearing her throat as she walked past her sister but there was no reaction.  She looked at Suki – a lone tear rolled down her cheek. Who was she talking to?  Disheartened by her failed attempt to get one up on her sister she had finished the squash. But now in the middle of the night it was coming back to haunt her.

Of course you need the toilet. Leanne heard her subconscious say. You wouldn’t be awake if you didn’t.  Leanne counted down the hours till it was time to get up; four. Too long; she would have to leave the warmth of her bed.

She walked to the bathroom and stood outside. The light was on. Leanne looked around ; her parents and Suki’s doors were firmly shut.  She waited in the silent hallway until she was desperate. Then she knocked. Nothing. She tried a whisper, “Hello. Can you hurry up I really need to go.”  There was no response. Yes. Maybe someone had just left the light on. Leanne opened the door just a little and waited. Still silence.

Finally she pushed the door open. It was then that she saw her. The bath was filled with a deep crimson her sisters white skin breaking through the surface. Leanne stood next to the bath. Her mouth was open but she was unable to make a sound as a warm liquid tickled down her leg and onto the bathmat

Okay so its not brilliant writing – I did it in ten minutes and its just a first draft it needs working on- but it is a bit of back story – it gives you the central motivation of the character. I think it does. But as I start to write these short back stories I learn more about my characters and to me that is a huge bonus. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

Every writer I know has trouble writing

Every writer I know has trouble writing.  ~Joseph Heller

Well I finally formatted my kindle book and uploaded it- about 48 hours later I have a £1.14 or $1.80 version of Goa Traffic available for Download on Kindle. Check out the link on the right or the link below:



It has the new cover, the formatted text and the new price. Someone I know has bought it and has said that the formatting is fine. The only tragedy is that the amazon ‘look inside’ application looks like is all over the place. The basic HTML doc really without the code. I have heard this happens – To be honest I don’t have the time this side of Christmas to trawl through internet sites and find out how to change it- well maybe tomorrow lunch time.

I have just 8 pages to edit on TBV. I have to do this nowish – or with the hubbub of Chirstmas I will lose my train of thought and that too may become a bit of a soup.

My plan for the next edit is to keep a running plotline of TBV in a book so that I can verify dates and timings- It starts in late September and finished in two months- I never mention Christmas- is that feasible- maybe in the last scenes I should – I mean the Protagonist does go shopping – maybe she could see some christmasy things.

Back to writing tips, here is something I am trying at the moment:

I started writing character profiles so that I would get inside their heads a bit more. Let me take a character from The Bittersweet Vine. She helps the story move along and reveals things to the reader by being the protagonists confidante. In my head she is a little like Suki from the Gilmore Girls. She is bubbly, vivacious, full of life. She had short brown hair and blue eyes and she just wants to find a bit of happiness, maybe a nice man who will treat her right, but no she is going out with Jason who she has an inkling is cheating on her. She lost her sister when she was young (she committed suicide) and so the protagonist and her sister are like her sisters. Although she is the best friend of my protagonist she therefore has her own issues. Leanne is not very good at keeping secrets. She is also not very good at dealing with complicated problems – she normally relies on the protagonist to help her out there. So now she knows the protagalists struggle what does she do?

I write out her details and her back story (for my reference only)  and I think this is enough but then I get an idea from a writing workshop on-line – it says write short stories about your characters that reveals something about them- like for yourself – not for the general public and as I started writing a bit of flash fiction the other day I thought to myself- why not? So that’s What I plan to do- I suppose it would be a little Chaucer –esk – Like the Canterbury tales!

Maybe I will post one on here- a short back story (Maybe I’ll change names so when you read the book you don’t immediately guess the storyline)….. watch this space.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

It is impossible to discourage the real writers...

It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write.  ~Sinclair Lewis

Today I feel like that!!! Today I want to write from the heart and not care about what people say... because after all we are only here for a short time - and its all subjective anyway.

I will update on Kindle in a couple of days!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man.

Publication - is the auction of the Mind of Man.  ~Emily Dickinson
So I read the other day to be a good novelist you should awlays write said after speech. i.e Sonya said as opposed to Sonya responded. Said is apparently an invisible word. Try it the next time you read you book- you dont notice it. So I am now getting rid of the literary trash in The Bittersweet Vine and removing anything like Sonya responded.

If you have read Goa Traffic - dont worry there is no Sonya in The Bittersweet Vine.

Thats another thing- names. I read an online article on naming you characters - apparently they should be names that are suitable ( i.e have a look on line for names people were called if they were born in the 80's if your character is in their 30's -simple and a good tip) more reality strikes true with readers. They will identify more.  But the article also said not to use difficult names the reader cant pronounce - I dont know but a couple of books I have read with difficult names I havent minded.... I suppose the majority do.

I am nearly there with Goa Traffic for kindle- I put the picture up yesterday - what do you think?  I did a quick read through this morning and I am ready to upload it now. With any luck I am going to do it tonight!!!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing...

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.  ~Hannah Arendt
Kindle formatting = nightmare. Really it is. I know you read about this everywhere but its true. After realising HTML was not my friend and not knowing how to add code and save it to a notepad document (dont ask) I tried the traditional word method. Below I will detail an idiots guide to uploading a kindle book. I wont go into the finer points just the basics to get you on the path to sanity.
1) yes Kindle will automatically indent each first line of each paragraph for you- if you like it keep it (but generally take out the line inbetween paragraphs then)
2)To get rid of indentation- in the paragraph settings of word type 1 px for formatting paragraphs- first line only- apparently kindle picks up 0 as something or the otehr so 1 px is just right- too small for a kindle reader to notice - you will have eliminated the indent
3) make sure there are only two hard returns at any gfiven point (thats the enter bar that gives you a new paragraph)
4) dont justify things from the main buttons up top- instead highlight entire text (ctrl A) and then make sure all your text is normal- Times roman and 12. Only use fonts up to 14- do not use fancy ones
5) Use the backward P button on microsoft to reveal the formatting marks. Check for consistant hard returns and spaces between words
6)upload to mobi pocket and preview on the free kindle previewer. Check for errors
7) My remaining issue is that some lines are ragged. Kindle will justify all your text but some lines remain ragged. I dont know how or what can be done- I have googled it and scored everything but no! so I am going to have to live with it
8) the cover - the image uploaded on mobi-pocket must be 600x800 pixels - although Mobi pocket sometimes says the image is too small it still uploads- go figure. I havent overcome that yet.
9) If it all still isnt working - strip all your formatting copy entire text into a notebook page and then copy that back into a clean word document. Hey presto- no bold, no italics - but thats life you will need to add all of that back in- I tried this and still didnt get rid of my ragged lines!!!

Anyway Goa Traffic has been a huge learning curve for me on kindle now as well!!!!!! I will let you know how I go- If I manage to upload it and charge as little as possible for it as well. My deadline is the 1st December ---- wish me luck

A brilliant blog I came across was CJ's easy as pie on blogspot- oddly I couldnt leave a message to thank him but I have started following him. If you are struggling with your kindle formatting check out his blogspot-

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Blue Cardigan

Okay so here goes the first of the two short stories:

The Blue Cardigan - A short story by Marissa de Luna   - if the hyperlink doesnt work click on the following link  or cut and paste this into your browser:  <a href="http://free.yudu.com/item/details/438784/The-Blue-Cardigan?refid=106825"><img src="http://free.yudu.com/item_image/default_editionitem_thumb.jpg" alt="Click to view the full digital publication online" style="border: 0;" target="_blank" /></a><br /><a href="http://free.yudu.com/item/details/438784/The-Blue-Cardigan?refid=106825">Read The Blue Cardigan</a><br /><a href="http://pro.yudu.com/">Publisher Software from YUDU</a>



Monday, 21 November 2011

The first goal of writing...

The first goal of writing is to have one's words read successfully.  ~Robert Brault,

When I did my author interview for Diverse Traveller one of the questions was “Did you attend any writing classes?” No was my reply- well a bit more padded out than that but that was the crux of it. But it made me think – should I have attended a class to improve my writing technique? Again today I spoke to someone about this and he said – surely learning how to write went against being creative- putting your freedom back into a box so you lean like the rest of them. He went on to say that most writers write for themselves and develop through their own work- true I thought happy with his deduction but I am an academic. The problem is – everything I have learned I prefer not to continue with. So enrolling in a creative writing course I decided was not for me. I love writing I don’t want education to take that away from me. But there are snippets of technique that you can and perhaps should learn. Today for instance I leaned that it was better to provide just jey pieces of description when describing a characters looks- such as mention brown hair and let the reader fill in the blanks. Something I didn’t do in GT. I wanted to really paint a picture but I think readers prefer characters looks of which they can create in their imaginations. I think the images they create is much more vivid then. So I am using this tip in The Bittersweet Vine.

I will explore further writing tips that I have discovered recently – learning on line through various websites but first can I just tell you about part one of my kindle experience.

So I have heard that formatting is a pain- and I though as GT was professionally edited it would be almost there- well it is kind of but there are so many other bits to do. The image size is too small for the cover and my friend who did the image is now on holiday- so annoying for someone with no patience like me!
Each para is indented on kindle – I have to change each one if I don’t want it that way- indenting is fine for me!!!
Kindle changes the format from when it is in HTML format to kindle so you have to do a trial run to see where these format changes are- sooooooo frustrating. I really hope that I can achieve creating GT kindle (cheaper version) in the next two weeks- maybe I will need to start getting up earlier!

The only good thing is amazons quick guide to the process- and mobi pocket creator and the kindle previewer- downloaded in seconds ( and my computer is generally slow)- even if you are technically illiterate like me you will be able to down load and use the two applications. If only to see just how difficult it is. However in saying that I realise that I have only had an evenings worth of frustration (and remember I am impatient) so maybe in another few tries I will be there and then you have to ask- was it that difficult if it only took a week to get right.

With many technical things such as this most of it is the knowing how- Once you have mastered the art of the formatting- it is probably as easy as writing your own name. And I suppose it depends on how fussy you are. I may be impatient but I am not pedantic. Therefore do I really mind that each paragraph is indented? No not really- is it going to hamper the readers experience? No I don’t think it will. If anything on the kindle previewer it is kind of easier to read that way--- after all its just a format!

I am going to persist this week and then wait patiently for my friend to resize the cover image! Will I be able to sell it on Kindle for the Christmas rush…. I just don’t know. Watch this space.

Just to let you know I have decided on which short story I am submitting for my writing groups flash fiction competition. The Blue Cardigan. Both the Blue Cardigan and Stealing Mangoes will be posted here shortly.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The belly rules the mind.

The belly rules the mind.  ~Spanish Proverb

Very excited indeed. I have just seen the new kindle cover for Goa Traffic and it looks great. The front cover on this edition is a bit more abstract but we’ll see – now the fun part converting it all onto e-pub and formatting and uploading to Amazon!!! Very exciting! I am hoping I can upload it all to Good reads as well for people to download if it all goes well.

It is quite exciting knowing that so much is available to the self publisher by the way of e-publishing! And surely it’s a great way to get some reviews and test the market!

I have decided to publish this edition under my new publishing name Yeoman Publishing. I have an edited copy of Goa Traffic (The acknowledgements slightly changed) in word format ready to go. Thanks to my pound this has already been formatted (I think) by the good people at Author House- well I presume that this was included in the whole editing process. I hope so – or it could take me forever!!

Wish me luck – I hope to get this all finalised and up on to kindle by the end of next week!!!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

No man in the world has more courage...

No man in the world has more courage than the man who can stop after eating one peanut.  ~Channing Pollock


Today I ate so much I thought my sides were going to split! really I did. I should have stopped when I was full but I didnt. 


Tomorrow is another editing/writing day. Fingers crossed I get at least half done. Time in running out now. Still loving Aravind Adiga's Last Man in Tower- go out and buy it now if you are thinking about it- its a good one for the christmas list- you will be right there on the streets of Bombay! 


In other news I need to get the Christmas shoping done- early I hate being lastminute.com - and I am entering my writing groups writing competition - a five hundred word pice - I have written - two . One entitle The Blue cardigan- a murder - the other - Stealing Mangoes - a comedy sketch set in Goa. 


I will post them on here after some refinement. I have never written a short story before. It is pretty hard to stick to 500 words, and because it is so short I am not sure how meaty it should be- How meaty can it be? 


nevertheless I did it because I have time- I normally never consider entering short story competitions- mmmmm would be good to get a critque on them either way - and a good way to kill some time! 


until next time...



Saturday, 12 November 2011

There is no mistaking the dismay ...

There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot.
L. Sprague de Camp


As you can see I have been busy trying to improve my Blog- Make it a bit more user friendly.... I hope you like it- I even added pink to it to increase the friendly nature. I hate pink... but it works. 


So apart from looking at shoes on line I am hoping to edit another chapter today... Blogging right now =stalling. 


I can no longer stall. I have a chapter to edit before I start on Lunch... Ministrone - it certainly is a soup day and maybe a prawn bagel.... 



Friday, 11 November 2011

My eyes hurt

My eyes hurt and its not a quote!!! They do- I have spent the evening editing - only 20 pages by my reckoning but it has taken time!!!!! The Bittersweet Vine is coming along nicely but I really need to go back (on edit number 2) and do more showing less telling- but remember there has to be a balance you cant have all showing and no telling!

So I have about 40 pages left to edit- Can I do it in three weeks? Lets see that is my target... I need to get it done its my target.

I have to say that Aravind Adiga is amazing!!!!! Last Man in Tower is brilliant - I love his work- He is inspiring me to write a detective series set in Goa. You have got to admit it- India is a fascinating place there is lots to write about. You may have noticed as well that my grammar is terrible STILL... I know need to get back to reading my grammar book.

I feel it in my bones though... The Bittersweet Vine is going to make it!!!!!!!

If you havent read Goa Traffic - pick up a copy now- available on pretty much most on-line retailers!!!! go on....

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can.

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret. 
Matthew Arnold


Okay so feeling a bit more normal today. (well kind of) So i was at my writing group and someone mentions new authors and that as budding authors we should know who is emerging. Yes of course we should this is a given- am I too self absorbed for this as I wondered as I sat there thinking what?!!! I should be more concerned about who else is out there and their trials and tribulations to getting published... I should and I will... maybe lunch hour tomorrow. I will report my findings so that we are all in the know! 


Also I am reading Last Man in Tower- by my absolute favourite author- Aravind Adiga who wrote White Tiger. 


I have just finished reading Netherland by Joseph O'neill which was take it or leave it stuff for me. And I read The house of the Hanged by Mark Mills - pretty good- a light read - a bit of a Poirot style- good to get lost into. 


there is not much out there in terms of self publishing at the moment and new things... but I will trawl and keep you all updated 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The only test of work of literature...

The only test of work of literature is that it shall please other ages than its own. 
Gerald Brenan



Today I feel... urgh!!! I dont know since attending my writing group yesterday which I havent been to in ages- I feel down. This wasnt the fault of the writers group but my own high expectations of myself. Today was my first wednesday in ages that I have had time to write. I should be elated. Instead I juts keep thinking that my work is not good enough!!! the title is not good enough... sales need to increase for Goa Traffic. speaking of which... http://www.amazon.co.uk/Goa-Traffic-Marissa-Luna/dp/1456775278/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320870242&sr=8-1


Have a look... a great Christmas present or stocking filler!! 


I dont know I am just not feeling the vibe today! I think my editing (I managed two chapters) was fruitless and I will have to go back and sort it out on edit number three!!! 


Maybe I will be feeling better tomorrow- I guess good things come to those who wait. 


This year for Christmas support someone new!!! Someone who is trying to make it- try sites like notonthehighstreet.co.uk ... go on.... I know I will be - my eyes have been opened!!! 


Okay rant over- I promise I will be more sane tomorrow! 

Monday, 7 November 2011

And there never was an apple...

And there never was an apple, in Adam's opinion, that wasn't worth the trouble you got into for eating it.
Neil Gaiman



America!!! My ratings are slip slip slipping on Amazon - I need you guys to boost it! Have you read Goa Traffic? It would make a brilliant Christmas present or perhaps a generous stocking filler. 


Know anyone going to India next year- again a brilliant present. Check out the reviews on www.amazon.co.uk - its a page turner. Okay enough of the shameless plug. 


Marketing is tough I realize- even when you have had your press release featured- it may not even generate a single sale!! I dont know I wait in anticipation for the next quarters results. 


Gosh writing can be sould destroying- well not the writing but the whole publishing, marketing stuff- yes I know we write because  we love it, because we have to, because there is no other way... I know I know. 


I have settled on a name for what was called The Book Club: It is now to be called The Bittersweet Vine... watch this space. Although I am riddled with flu so I have not progressed with is as yet. 


And if you fancy writing a review on Amazon.com - or .co.uk please do... please do