Saturday, 30 July 2011

At first, I spend about four hours a day writing

At first, I spend about four hours a day writing. Toward the end of a book, I spend up to 16 hours a day on it, because all I want to do is make it good and get it done.- Tracy Kidder

So Pottermore – is the new venture with JK Rowling and sony. If you googled it after reading my blogpost yesterday you probably already know more about it than me. I read it on self-publishing review (no they don’t pay me to advertise it- I just seem to find some good articles on there- but it’s free to join) – well anyway she gets more royalties kids get more potter books – she is a billionaire and will be even more so after this and then well she gives some kind of percentage to the original publishers. So if she is self pubbing – why isn’t self publishing more out there- and obviously there are more benefits to this.

I am going to try the Book Club as an e book before I venture down any Authorhosue type contracts again but I will try the traditional route as well- well you have to try don’t you.

It is a bit worrying though all those scaremongering stories you hear about getting taken by a publisher and then not having your book printed for years – or it is published and then they don’t market it.

It has made me think about marketing too. So I have tried all the free stuff now, the press releases, the post cards left in pubs and coffee shops (although I need to do a bit more of that) – I have targeted some private book shops and I have targeted the glossy magazines. I have even left copies at waterstones. Now I need to hit it big time. I need to approach the Buyrs- especially WH smith Travel and I need to approach newspapers and maybe the TV book club or Richard and Judy’s book club- anyone got any contacts?

It is true I could send books out here there and everywhere or like one case study I ready- leave copies on public transport! I have taken a back seat on the marketing front lately but I think its time to up a gear and get a bit more organised.

Friday, 29 July 2011

When I'm writing, sometimes it gets to that place...

When I'm writing, sometimes it gets to that place where I feel like the piece is writing itself and I'm trying not to get in the way.- John Zorn

So I was on again, yes again – it has some good stuff and I started reading an exceptionally good article about self publishing – it was so good that I felt compelled to leave a comment. Something I rarely do – although I have been trying to get my name out there a bit more recently so yes I have been. Anyway The article was written by Martin  Lastrapes about self publishers who uphold the stigma that ‘we are not good enough’ and this is ultimately holding us back from competing with the big wigs. I think he is very apt actually. I feel compelled to tell people I am a self pubber when they ask about by book- like it’s a bad thing- and you know that I don’t think it’s a bad thing- after all I am all for self publishing.

Anyway so I got chatting to Lastrapes and he is doing a blog tour – He will be putting up a guest blog on thecoffeestainedmanuscript on the 17th August. Watch this space for more news. In the meantime e-bookers at only $1.38 (I think) maybe read his novel  Inside the Outside  Having a look at the synopsis it sounds intriguing maybe a bit darker than something I would read but you never know these days I am broadening my horizons.

On the reading front you will never guess what my next book club book is (not my facebook one- the real one I have joined) – It is Tony Blair – A journey- yes that is the big summer read. Are you serious? Well I have ordered it along with Lanterns and The Legacy from the TV book club. I will review as I read as usual.  

But now that I mention my facebook book club- (Please join it if you haven’t already)- I am picking a book for the month of august- any suggestions- yes I know it should be something I am currently reading but think I am going to pick something I have read this year to get the ball going.

Anyway hope I haven’t bored you too much! Next blog is about the Pottermore- whats that? I hear you cry- JK Rowling a self publisher- just wait and see.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Show dont tell!

Show don't tell - pretty much most writers!

So I have been painstakingly editing the last few chapters- Yes readers I got pretty far the other day but now I have stalled I am pretty much re-writing chapters so they are more fluid. Today over three hours I have edited just one chapter- And this is not even a full edit! Its like the pre-first draft edit. I was happy with it but now my eyes weary I am not. I feel that it is a lot of telling and not much showing. Maybe thats what I'll concentrate on in my next edit - i tell myself- after all this is just sorting out the bones of the work. It has reached 64000 words and I am three chapters away from the end - I may well reach 69000 to the end. I should then add at least another 20,000 to it- the meat to the bones- I am sorry if I am repeating myself but i am tired and trying to see the end of the tunnel. 

The good news is I dont need glasses. I went for an eye test today given all that time I have been glued to a computer- at work and at home- Its not good. 

I have more to say on show dont tell but forgive me I am tired- but instead of relaxing and giving my eyes a break I am going to watch a movie! glutton for punishment! 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out

Drama is life with the dull bits cut out. 
Alfred Hitchcock

So I was on and I read a really interesting article by Henry Baum - basically the premise was to get your book kindled and set the price as free- sure you dont make any money but he tried it and guess what? He got loads of downloads- so then its in the top 100 or whatever people see it- a week later you put a price on it- but its already a best seller so people will buy it? Sounds simple- it does make for an interesting read and is a good concept as well- although as he rightly suggests- many people will catch on to this which will swamp the market- in the mean time I think genius!!!  A bit of free marketing! 

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Most writers can write books faster...

Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
Richard Curtis

So imagine this – you walk into work and they tell you with not all that much notice that your job role has become redundant. Mmm it takes a few seconds to sink in that you have actually been made redundant. You don’t know what to do- you have just bought a house and the mortgage is a little more than it should be – but you stretched yourself because work was going fine, you had been in the job for years.

Lee child (author- just in case you didn’t know) had a similar situation happen to him – what did he do? He started writing- the fact that he is probably a millionaire now from his good fortune of being made redundant is a good thing- of course it is. He was lucky enough to know how to write, want to write, have the time to write and find a publisher.

I would like to say it was easier in those days to find a publisher but really was it? People always say in our day it was harder or visa versa! Who really can be the judge of that- it may have been easier back in the day but then maybe they had to do all their own washing (as in no washing machines) or some other such thing.

Anyway so maybe things happen for a reason – you hear hundreds of these inspiring redundancy stories- especially in a time when we are all in the ‘credit crunch!’ – redundancy is not a lucky break but if it does happen you can perhaps follow your dream instead?! But what if you don’t have the time to do that- what if you need money for the mortgage or you have just found out that your girlfriend is pregnant. Mmmm makes you think.

Monday, 25 July 2011

The novel is an event in consciousness.

The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim isn't to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain.
George Buchanan

I have some news finally! Goa Traffic is finally on sale in India, well Goa, I am not so sure about the rest of India. Available at Broadway Books, if anyone is heading out to Goa at all – pick up a copy there. Printed there it is cheaper at Rs 350 a book. I will try now to get it into other book shops – fingers crossed it sells! It is good that it will be distributed through book shops though – very excited – I need to drum up some business for it- wouldn’t it be nice to sell out! – One can dream I suppose.

I have also decided to target the main buyers at the big book shops. That work will start next Wednesday. The idea is to call and ask for the main buyer or at least get a name to send a pitch letter of sorts to asking them to stock the book. I reckon that this will be a good seller at airport shops so will definitely contact WH Smith Travel. Then maybe I will contact the newspapers, with my same press release that has currently not had huge success.

I have edited up to chapter 11 of my new novel, the Book Club and have realised that I need to add depth to two of the characters- they are pivotal characters, so you don’t see them all that much through the book, but when they do appear they have some impact. I need ideas to give them more of a personality- maybe a back story- How do you give them that third dimension otherwise. I want the readers to really like one of them lets call him Mr L and the other one I want them to be uncertain about, maybe a bit suspicious of, lets call him Mr C- any ideas – throw them my way – although I get its difficult since you haven’t read the book.

So far through the edit I am happy the way the story is going, although one or two chapters need some va va voom. It is hard editing a suspense novel – because lets face it you know what is going to happen. There comes a point when you stop thinking this is a page turner because quite frankly you know what is on the next page!

In other news – I am loving The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh - Some unexpected twists have really made it into a page turner. I found a grammatical error in my English Grammar for dummies book- Ha! Boredom one lunchtime at work has led me to write to them and point it out! I know I am a geek- but I had the time (actually I don’t have the time- I barely have time to do this)

Anyway – spread the word- Goa Traffic is available to buy in Goa!!!! Fingers crossed.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Learn as much by writing as by reading.

Learn as much by writing as by reading. Lord Acton 

Its tough isnt it - marketing your novel once it has been published - Yes I know I have said this countless times before. It can sometime be disheartening but rewarding as well. That's life - Today I had someone from author house contact me with his selling voice on asking me to purchase a bit of marketing. 'You have to spend at least triple on marketing your book, than what you actually paid for the book.' 
'Mmmm I dont think so, not right now, maybe in a couple of months I say.' 
'Oh so your book is not important to you then?' he asks in the sweetest of tones. 
'It's important. It is not a priority.' I say flatly. 
He is still not convinced- he tries any array of persuasions to get a package. 'I', not trying to make you spend your money.' He says 'I am your marketing consultant. How will you give people the choice to buy your book if you dont know it's even out there.' 
'Yeah I wont I say' nonchalantly - I bet this is annoying him. 'I want to know what my royalties are in September before I start any full scale marketing.' - He is still not convinced.
'Whats you budget?' he asks
'I dont have one because I havent thought about it yet.'
He eventually gives up with the assurance that I will call him as soon as I decide I want to take up his offer. 
So I do look at the website the marketing materials on offer. This is a couple of packages that they offer: 
A review in the Guardian "£999" - what if they slate your book? you have paid a grand for the pleasure 
maybe an advert would be better at £999 in the guardian - I get the feeling that the guardian is not so hot if you can pay for a review.

An inflight 'global magazine' add £10,999 are they serious? 
Readers Digest full page add £46,000 mmmm makes the inflight magazine add seem like a bargain! 
Google and amazon search programme £60 much more reasonable - but if you type Goa traffic into Google my book generally comes up - so not needed methinks
Hollywood screenplay £9999- really? you are going to make your book into a screenplay and try that?! 

I can see that they want to make money and this must be a good earner for them- especially if you are in a bubble of your own. Who knows- who am I to say It may actually work. But as this marketing genius said to em on the phone today. Even with all the marketing as a novelist 'you aint gonna make millions!' 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"...

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be - Mark Twain

I have found a strange fascination to baking over the past month. For someone that has never baked in her entire life I can only see it as a sign of getting older. Although I am not that old. Maybe it is not a sign and me reading into it.

This has nothing to do with writing though so I’ll move on.

I have a friend who is a fabulous baker and photographer – ‘Bake amazing cakes and take photos and really you could self publish your own book!’ She smiles at me and tries to humour me. ‘I know. I would love to do something like that.’  The girl has more talent than she knows what to do with – she could easily make millions but I can say this and I know she will admit to this: She does not have much organisational capability.

I guess you have to have a god dollop of both creativity and organisation skills if you are to ever make a business out of your talent.

I am close to the end of English Grammar for Dummies – I will start reading it again as soon as I finish – And I am mid-way through The Crowded Bed. I am enjoying it. It is also giving me a little insight into being Jewish, something I know little about. I like books like that – they teach you something without actually ‘teaching you’

I have also set up a little schedule for editing my second novel. I was supposed to finish by the end of July but with only ten days or so left and more chapters than days left I doubt that is going to happen. I must be a little more disciplined now. I am getting complacent and a bit apprehensive. Like most writers- yesterday I had one of those ‘hopeless’ days when you think all your work dull and dreary and that you should throw it all out. I didn’t, I refrained- Instead I edited chapter seven.

But as I read other books – even though ‘The Book Club’ is more developed than ‘Goa Traffic’ – I realise that I want to make it even richer than ever. So the reader can get completely lost within the plots and sub plots and the intense atmosphere of the book. Yes that’s the word for it – I want it to be ‘rich’ – like an indulgent Christmas fruit cake.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea...

Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea in a small boat. It helps, if you have a plan and a course laid out.
John Gardner

Okay so after a couple of non-sensible blogs I now have something half decent to say. ‘To Write a book, publish it and make a success out of it you should really write a business plan for the novel’. I read this somewhere recently – but authors are too creative for that aren’t they? I mean how often do you see an artist write out a business plan about selling their most recent sketch? No it doesn’t really happen, but this author had a point. I am not saying to any one out there thinking of self pubbing to put their final draft down and download a business plan template from business link. No – certainly not. But it is worth thinking a little bit more business savvy. For instance the business plan starts of generally with a mission statement- or a goal. I think this is key for self publishing because really you need to think about what you want to achieve. The main reasons I believe are as follows:
1)   Lets not beat around the bush – Vanity- every budding author wants to see their name in print
2)   Money- most authors want to get some money out of this- nearly all budding novelists want to make this a career- after all it is their vocation they just need to get that publisher on board
3)   Fame – Yes that will probably come along if you achieve the above two points.
4)   Make a difference by telling your story- To me even if my story makes a difference to one person than it was worth it- but that’s just me.

So think about your reasons. The average author makes around £5000 per year and that is with a publisher so you really have to write for love. If you self publish depending what you have put in you may not even break even- If this is a major goal maybe try self publishing an e-book. That would be much cheaper but then you don’t get the glory of having it in print to show your grandkids one day.

Well then if that is the issue you could just get a couple printed via LuLu or Blurb something like that. It is definitely worth thinking about.

So the business plan template is beneficial here- okay you don’t have to create a cash flow analysis but maybe a profit and loss account would help! It’s just an idea maybe it would provide a focus or maybe it would stop your creative flow. The good thing is that its your decision! Maybe whilst you are waiting for that publisher to sign you up you can have a think about it!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

An idea that is not dangerous...

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.- Oscar Wilde 

Okay so my friend calls me today and says 'I have an idea' - she is very creative. 'Start a facebook book club and get people to review your book' 

I love it - so I immediately start one and now all I need is for you, yes you to join. I dont know how to link to groups yet- my internet literacy has not reached so far as yet. But if you search 'The Book Club - Reading Group' - I am hoping it comes up. 

I am not going to ask people to review my book... as yet. The book we are first going to review will be announced on the first of August - with opinions and discussions to follow the following month. I am hoping this will work- I am hoping that some people- who I dont know from adam will join. 

I hope you do! If you enjoy reading then it should be a must do on your list of things to do. The beauty of this book club- is that you don't have to read the book one particular month and not feel guilty about it. Plus it should whet your appetite for reading new books! 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

I think finally good writing gets out there...

I think finally good writing gets out there, and people like it, and bad writing doesn't. Well, no. Bad writing does get out there 'cause some people like it. Robert B Parker 

I have mentioned before that has quite a few good articles on it. yesterday I came across an article by James Moushon that promoted ebook self publishing. for anyone starting out or thinking of self publishing take a look. Even if the ebook publishing route is not the one you want to take. It provides a dose of reality of what it really is like to self publish. 

A huge item on there is a website which I really must get sorted- but its time and a little bit of know how.

A quick reminder if you are of Facebook - find me by searching 'Goa Traffic-a Novel by Marissa de Luna'

Friday, 15 July 2011

There is nothing to writing...

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Ernest Hemingway

Yesterday for a work event I went to the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. It was good and interesting to see artists work. As a writer - you are an artist of sorts- sending your manuscript out is like standing in front of Simon Cowell on the X factor and singing your heart out only to be told you are no good. Sometimes you get a market even if you are no good- take the cheeky girls for instance. Art is similar - so subjective- I saw some amazing pieces and some that made me step back and say 'really? I mean Really??' 

I wont lie I dont understand much about art but I guess the premise is the same-you like it or you dont. 

It did however open my eyes - to a different perspective on the world. A coffin made of chicken bones is interesting. An iconic scene in London with a sea painted beneath it where people are enjoying themselves in crystal blue waters - you would never imagine it - but there it is all painted- someone did think about it. Artists must see everyday items through different lenses.

And I guess as authors we do that all the time - the way we see things - we see them differently because we may just want to write about them! 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Let me walk through the fields of paper...

Let me walk through the fields of paper
touching with my wand
dry stems and stunted
~Denise Levertov, "A Walk through the Notebooks"

So how long should your first, second or third novel be? mmmm - I think this is a tough one. I read somewhere that your first novel should be 70,000 - any more and you will put off publishers and any less and they may question your ability to write. I have mentioned this before but Goa Traffic is 76,000 - It is a quick read by most standards. People who have read it have found it a comfortable length- as I said yesterday if you dont have something to say worthwhile - dont say it- surely this applies for a book as well. 

So'The book club' has started off at about 55,000 as I go through it I am probably adding 500 words per chapter. I reckon it will be around 60,000. Then I add the meat to it- I mean there is already some meat to it already and I am aiming for 80,000-90,000 words. I know someone in my writing group is trying to cut her novel down from 130,000 as this was suggested by a publisher but every time she tries to cut something out we protest that the first version was better. 

If i were her I would be true to my novel and keep it as it is- If they take her book on then I reckon she could do some cutting etc! but why before she is published or even taken on! 

Who knows how long a novel should be. Just be true to your work though. That's my tip! 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Be obscure clearly

Be obscure clearly.  ~E.B. White

The other day in my writing group- someone said "I have no time to blog" to create this buzz about your work that eventually turns into your own rantings and has nothing to do with creating a buzz. In fact sometimes I think this blog is doing more harm than good- I mean  is reading this really going to create any hype for my novel "Goa Traffic" mmmm I don't know. Will people read it and find me endearing and think yes I'll buy a copy because I like her ideas. Or really would they read it and think I am staying well away- she doesn't know basic grammar even! 

If anyone knows the answer to this please say- I suppose having a blog is a bit like being on big brother- you start off with good intentions trying to portray what you perceive as the best part of your personality and soon you forget that the cameras are here (or the audience in the case of blogging) and just carry on with your own thing. 

If you have followed my blog from the beginning you will know that not all authors have something to say all the time- maybe if you are not a budding author you may think that they should have something interesting to say always - or their books wont be interesting. I am not like that - I like to think that I save the interesting stuff for my books! 

I admit I struggle to find the time to blog... but sometimes I just dont know what to blog! a shameful admission but I am sure most bloggers (without the gift of the gab) will agree with me. And if you dont have anything worthwhile to say - maybe you just shouldn't say anything at all!!On that note thats it for today. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I get up in the morning...

I get up in the morning, torture a typewriter until it screams, then stop.
Clarence Budington Kelland

So I am plodding through my first draft of 'The Book Club' and I must say that English language for dummies - is kind of making a difference to my writing. You may look at this and think 'mmmm -its not." I know I am a bit slap dash with my blog but honestly it is improving my novel writing. Now on reading the first draft tiny grammatical errors that I can now see are errors are annoying me - Huh never thought that would happen in a million years. I guess that is education for you. 

I have been busy the last couple of days. My friend has just had a baby and my thoughts have been there really. Its funny all the things in life that are sent to distract you. I hope the baby grows up doing what it wants to do- just think when it is about 30 it may be a novelist or artist and successful at that - that would be a beautiful thing. Don't you think too many people are forced to go in to professions - when i say forced I mean stereo institutionalized-
A well know artist would be lovely to know. 

The first edit is going well. Adding bits taking bits out. I have created my new psychiatry treatment- how will that go down I wonder? 

Also this week I have been given a heads up on a novel writing competition for women- solely women - I think that's what they call positive discrimination- are there more male authors out there than women?!  I think I may enter Goa Traffic into the running- as most competitions you cannot enter if you are published - but this allows self publishing. The deadline is September - so who knows maybe I will have a copy of the Book Club ready. Although I am certainly not going to rush it. 

Anyway the competition is run by Mslexia - so google it if you want to give it a go. 5000 words of your novel- the first 5000!!! 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Artistic honesty sometimes...

Artistic honesty sometimes prevents an artist from being born.
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

So the marketing email that I sent around (for Goa Traffic) is doing really well- blog traffic is on the up. If you got that email- please forward it on to absolutely everyone you know, it will hopefully realise a few more sales and pique some interest if not in Goa Traffic, than in my second novel ‘The Book Club.’

If anyone out there has any other marketing tips- It would be good t hear about them. I have another couple of ideas to play with but I am staggering. For now I am concentrating on book 2.  

Currently I am trying to do some research on all sorts of things for my new book. Hypnosis (my writing group suggested I went for some to get an idea of what its like?! Maybe), IVF, abortions, a tablet that will aid memory loss, drowsiness as well and an alternative to Rohypnol. There is still a lot to do research wise. I think this is where I falter and it is so important to pay attention to detail with a novel. It’s the little things that count, that make it seam real (after all that is one of the main tasks of a novelist ) and it is also what critics will pick up on.

It is very important to pay attention to detail. When the words are flying through your mind quicker than you can write them down. Attention to detail is the last thing you want to get involved with. Stopping for two minutes to pick a name for a restaurant you have added to your story can be hard enough. I am going to leave my attention to detail to my third draft! So December time then…. I somehow don’t think this novel is going to be ready for next spring.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

There is no great writing...

There is no great writing, only great rewriting.
Justice Brandeis

So I have started editing the first very sketchy draft of my new novel. I had forgotten how tedious editing could be. It’s the first draft so new ideas keep coming too me and what starts off as two additional words scribbled in the margin (I hand write my edits- crazy I know) turns into at least a paragraph- by which time I am trying to find space to cram it all in. Or another favourite trick- I add an asterisk and write another chapter on a scruffy piece of paper.

This time I am not editing the whole novel and then trawling back to decipher my scribbles and a million asterisks which belong to random bits of paper. No this time I am doing two chapters at a time. They are long chapters though and it is very time consuming. I can feel an air of impatience taking over me which will not be good for my novel. The impatience is not to get it out so to speak but it’s to get through this first draft so that it is more complete – to start a proper edit. If you have been following my blog, I have mentioned that this edit is not to flesh out but to add bits that I think are essential. New plots and ideas are coming to me as well so its more of a first write I guess than a first edit. I wanted to get this done by the end of July, but with other commitments I cant see it happening. I reckon it will be more like September time, which is okay too – I think I can muster up a good couple of first readers to tell me their initial thoughts by then!

The new book I am reading: Aberystwyth Mon amour- is proving to be a light hearted detective read and just what I need for a bit of escapism. It is old worldy but set in modern day. An interesting combination! It is slightly difficult to read as a reader now I find. I kind of read as a writer and as I go through my English Language for dummies book, I am more aware of the commas and punctuation in books that I read- I suppose that is part of the learning process. But as I read it I think – this guy got published, what did they see- I must say I picked up the book and thought I am going to like this – especially after the failure of the Hare with Amber Eyes, however, the first chapter or so did not draw me in at all! I pursued with it though- I had to- It must be read by the end of the month (which is another thing I am not so sure about in regards to joining a book club- this pressure to get the book read within a certain time). Anyway – It is going well and I would recommend it – if you want to pass a couple of evening with a light hearted – don’t have to think about it- novel, and its short too with some interesting characters- it doesn’t drag.

I have also started reading The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh.  I have just started it and put it aside, whilst I get the reading group book out of the way but it has started well and I look forward to returning to it. I think I will start a little book review section on this blog. Maybe one to two per month. Now that I am reading – a wider variety of books- that’s what I like about the club- Each member gets to choose a book that they like so you get a real variety of books!