Tuesday, 18 December 2012

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not writing.

If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not writing. Just like life. It’s as simple as that. – Rita Clay Estrada

I have mentioned this website before but it’s so good I thought I would give it another mention. Recently when I researching something or the other – probably what questions to ask a literary agent I found this site again: Writers beware. Well I actually went looking for it because I knew it would be filled with good nuggets of information. I was right it gave me the information I wanted but I also found something else of interest and that was a good article on Copyright. New authors all over the world want to know how to protect their work. I did read one article where it said – agents don’t want your work – why do you think someone would steal it? I have got to admit I feel a little like this but a small part of you doesn’t want to see years of work being stolen and used by someone else. Another article said post it to yourself – does this count? I doubt it.  But What to do when you are sending out your work? I too have foolishly put a copyright mark on unpublished work. The reality of the situation (as I see it) is this:

Basically if you are in a writing group and they have watched your work develop – this is a plus – it’s a group of witnesses.

However, going through anything legal (if you are relatively unknown) – a basement writer – is what I call people like me - it is going to have a mammoth cost- there wont be a question of witnesses. In fact the only time you would need them is if say you were Dan Brown and rolling in the royalties – then someone else claims you stole their work- thats when the witnesses would help. And never say never remember JK Rowling was once just a house wife or something of the sorts.

I know people are confused about the matter but I think this article on writer beware will help clarify your thoughts on the matter.

This will probably be my last post till after Christmas. I really feel I need a time out. I am finishing The Bittersweet (last edit I hope) to send to my agent mid Jan. It’s then going for a proof read/copy edit so it can be sent to publishers at the end of Jan. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I have also been trying to understand punctuation in regards to speech marks. I think I need to understand punctuation first. I spent hours last night trying to find out what sentences start with capitals when in speech marks. Google was not helpful – also back to who and whom… I am still struggling with that but I think I am slowly getting there. Hopefully that grammar course will help me next year. So kids the lesson of the day is pay attention in English Grammar- if you still have English Grammar courses.

Of course 2013 will bring many writing opportunities. I am now working on a short stories book for Kindle as well, with Urmi Kenia. To see what we currently do check out my other blog, The Lens and The Quill (see link on the right). I may even put a Chupplejeep short story in there – just to give you a flavour of what is to come…. All the short stories will be set in India – which I guess will tie in nicely with Goa Traffic. Anyway watch this space. I am looking forward to the New Year.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year everyone!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Don't be dismayed by the opinions of editors...

Don't be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
- Gene Fowler
So today I feel like I am drowning. Now that I have an agent and I want to get The Bittersweet Vine (TBV) submissions out as soon as possible I have to re-visit it. Before I was going to give my brain and poor eyes a rest and start editing  it again in January. So Poor Chupplejeep gets put to the back of the pile again. I have now set myself a deadline of Middle Jan to get TBV beyond perfect. With work being as busy as it is and the fact that I have to go to the gym I am wondering if I get up early to do some editing.

You see the kind of person taht I am makes me want to still work on Chupplejeep because I said I would do that. I also have a ton of books to read- again which I said I would do. trying to fit it all in is becoming impossible.

Okay - rant over. Back to work for me. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Learning to be more observant...

Learning to be more observant…

So I was reading The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing and I came across a really good chapter- written by Donna Levin about, what she calls Killer Diller details.

Basically in a nutshell the advice was to write down 5 observations at the end of every day. Because as a writer you have to be observant – when you describe a suit for example (and here is showing not telling) say its chalk stripped and double breasted she says – don’t just say it’s a suit- if it’s a manky cat say it’s tail was matted not just that it was manky – I am paraphrasing here.

The level of your description is down to you but make the detail worth reading!  I am one of those oblivious people that could probably walk past an elephant without noticing it. Since becoming a writer I have started becoming more observant – you do by nature- you notice how people react to certain things. And Nature – you notice how beautiful and how ugly things are. But I feel I need to be more observant… maybe because I started life with no observational skills at all. Donna Levin says to notice the things you would otherwise miss. I want to notice more because there is so much out there- as writers we are lucky – our muse’s and our inspirations are out there for free. So that is what I am going to start doing every day or maybe every other day.

Levin says that you should provide more detail if the subject is unfamiliar to the reader. I did this in Goa Traffic, but I think the description was unbalanced by too much telling. Although I have been complemented on the description… to me it feels unbalanced (now obviously and not when I was writing it or published it for that matter). I am going to notice more (which may also make the weekly shopping more interesting) and hopefully my writing will be richer for it!

Monday, 3 December 2012

I have been successful...

I have been successful probably because I have always realised that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

It has been a while. I hope you enjoyed the Next Big Writer Blog tour and have found some new and interesting up and coming authors. It has been a busy couple of months for me...and now I have an agent!

Yes it has all happened so fast. I wont bore you with the details but the gist of it is this: I got a response for my submissions, sent off  the manuscript after a sleepless week trying to get my spelling and punctuation right (that's to H for helping there) - I sent it off on a Friday feeling all happy until I found out it had track changes on which my old version of word didn't pick up- anyway I apologised and set it again. A couple of weeks later I received a lovely review of my book (it is an amazing feeling when someone you don't know says its a good book)- the review was good it picked up bits that I was unsure about and the reviewer highlighted areas that could be improved. It also highlighted just how bad my grammar and spelling is - I'm trying. I really am! I then spoke to the agent and received an offer. Now if you know me you'll know I don't often ask that many questions. I don't know what happened to me but I sent the agent an overload of questions - thus showing I am a complete nutter. Of course you have to ask questions and you have to be sure but - and I blame the stress here- I went a little over the top- Even H agrees. But anyway - I got responses and I was happy with them. So I accepted (cue fireworks and champagne).  I will let you know which agent it is as soon as I have the signed contract back in my hand. The agent agency seems very business focused which appeals to me - as you know juts how impatient I am.  I have a good feeling about 2013.

Also as a little end note of grammar and spelling - it matters- it really does- to publishers and agents. I always made submissions based on the fact that the agent/publisher is going to make changes no matter what. However, I have come to realise. You have to give them something tat is going to be so good - they wont want to make changes and your spelling and grammar have to be good as well. The oxford Style Manual sits at the bottom of the stairs. It is huge I don't know where to begin.

Also I have to get cracking with Chupplejeep!!!! I am currently reading books by Indian authors to give me a flavour of Indian life. Its not hard writing about Goa because its so deeply etched in my mind but sometimes you forget how people talk etc. If you want to read about life in India - read one of Chetan Bhagats books. They are excellent for this type of thing. I am also ploughing through The Complete Handbook of Novel writing. Most of the tips I have read before through research on line but it is very comprehensive and gives some good pointers. Its a good lunch time read.

So things are on the up for me but I find myself wondering when I am going to fit everything in?!

Will keep you posted... Also small 40p increase in Goa Traffic has resulted in highest sales ever this month! what's that about? the experiment continues but my break-even point is now in sight!!!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

As you may well know the 'Next Big Thing' blog tour is well under way and thanks to Gabrielle Aquilina it has made a stop here. If you haven’t visited Gabby’s blog – take a look- it’s a brilliant read. Gabby was one of the founder’s of Abingdon Writers and you can read the answers about her book, Rock-a-Lillie, here

What is the working title of your book?

The Bittersweet Vine. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I love reading psychological thrillers and as a result I see story lines develop from the most mundane of thoughts and I also have really random thoughts. One day, at work, I thought to myself: what if I blacked out in an empty office and woke up two days later?   And what if I woke in my own bed, with no recollection of where I had been or what had been done to me?  It was the perfect idea to explore. 

What genre does your book fall under?

Psychological Thriller 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Mmm…that’s a tough one. I would like the main character, Maria, to be played by someone like Selena Gomez or Katie Holmes; sweet on the inside but tough at the same time. Alice, her estranged sister, by Rose McGowan; Owen, Maria’s ex-lover, who is now Alice’s fiancĂ© would be played by Ewan McGregor. Other characters would include Hugh Grant, Kate Moss, Mark Ruffalo Jay Kay… Yes it would be star studded!  

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Traumatized abduction victim, Maria Shroder, wakes physically unharmed, but suffering from hysterical amnesia. Desperate to pull into consciousness the secrets her mind has buried, Maria must first uncover the lies hidden in her past.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am currently in talks with a literary agency. If I don’t succeed in publishing traditionally, I will definitely self-publish as I did with my first novel, Goa Traffic

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About 6 months, but the end product was really rough!! It took about a year to get a decent draft together.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I love psychological thrillers and I aspire to write like Sophie Hannah. I grew up reading books by Minette Walters. She  writes great thrillers revolving around obscure topics. In The Bittersweet Vine the unfamiliar topic of hysterical amnesia is brought into centre stage, and the reader is held in suspense as Maria struggles to unravel the cause of her abduction.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

After publishing Goa Traffic, I was keen to start writing a second novel. Writing is in my blood, and when I had the idea for The Bittersweet Vine I couldn't stop until I had written the last word. Sibling rivalry plays a huge part in my novel as well and something readers can easily identify with.  Having an older sister myself I had a lot of experience to draw on!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is a subplot that runs through the book; between Penelope (a researcher by day; stripper by night) and a mysterious post-grad student, Jason. They are desperately in love, but not everything is as it appears.  The reader soon discovers both Penelope and Jason have secrets which will change the course of their relationship forever.  

Well I hope the 'Next Big Thing' Blog tour doesn't stop here! Clearly I need more friends that write! keep checking back for links to other writing blogs for their answers! 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Words can be like X-rays...

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I think I made a breakthrough with commas this week. And it's only Tuesday. For my whole existance, up until now, comma's have evaded me. I drew a mental blank - but not anymore.

I hope you will notice that my punctuation has improved. As usual I am still always in a rush so maybe I wont check so much. But I now know I must take the time to do so. Maybe that means less blog posts and more grammatically correct sentences.

If you go back to my first blog post or there abouts you will see that I was anti- grammar and punctuation. My theory was that I didnt have time for commas. And I didnt have the inclination to learn about them eitehr. All that is largely true. I still dont have the patience for punctuation but if I keep at it and take time with my writing - then one day it will come to me as naturally as breathing. I now also understand why people get annoyed with grammatically in-correct statements. Of course you would if you knew the difference.

So there you go - I was wrong. I am hoping that by eating my words it makes me sound like I'm a better person. Quite frankly I am the same as before. I just now know what a comma splice is.

You may be reading this thinking that my grammar is all wrong. But yes I will still put full stops before the words But and And - because I believe that this is a point of style and that times have changed.

Anywa, if like me you struggle with punctuation have a look at the this site: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/exercises/grammar/grammar_tutorial/page_41.htm#exindex , which is fantastic and definately get this book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Penguin-Guide-Punctuation-Reference-Books/dp/0140513663/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352809349&sr=8-1

I am still going to enroll in a grammar course next year but in the interim these resources have been super helpful.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Even grown-ups need Crayons

Even grown-ups need crayons

November, November!!! Well I have now hit my target and sold over 1000 copies of Goa Traffic. 1091 to be exact. I am happy. If you told me to define success for Goa Traffic at the start of this whole process I would have said – when I sell 1000 copies- I probably said it somewhere on this blog. It seemed like it would never happen. The paper copy sales have not been great – but decent – so I cant complain – I would have estimated hitting 1000 copies in 10 years time. With self publishing and then Kindle – the whole ebook market has really taken off! I mean if you look at Amazons projected target sales of Kindles it only stands to reason that ebook sales will increase.

I must have mentioned that I am now tracking my website hits as well – Hits to my website have gone up as have sales and I think that is partly due to the fact I have a website (that was the advice I was given by someone reading this blog actually – so –thank you) We’ll see if sales increase even more once H sorts out the mobile site. Blog hits remain sroughly the same each month but my hits on it have always been relatively high. What I don’t get is how I am selling so many copies in the UK and only 2 a month in the USA. Is that because there is so much available in the USA?  – Apparently 235000 + books are self published every year. That’s a crazy amount. No wonder some don’t even surface.

So how do you market your ebook? Tweet me @marissadeluna #ebookmarketing

But books and book selling aside I must tell you about the crayon comment. The other day I went to a Creative Meditation session. Yes - I too was dubious but I really enjoyed it. What is creative meditation? I hear you ask. Well it’s simple really it’s meditating after which you get some crayons and draw what you feel- or write- or sing I suppose if that’s what you want to do.

I enjoyed it. Meditation (which I have never done before) shows you how to switch off if anything and well worth it- Apparently I really did need someone to tell me to stop thinking. We are so busy concentrating on doing, doing, doing that we never stop to 1) do nothing 2) just think about ourselves – not ourselves in relation to this person or that person and 3) do something childish- like use crayons. The feel of a crayon in your hand will take you back and colouring into- not between the lines but anyhow on your blank piece of paper. It may even get rid of any writers block!

Expressing our feelings and emotions through creativity is a good idea- of course we have our writing but sometimes only a crayon will do!

Monday, 29 October 2012

No one says a novel has to be one thing.

“No one says a novel has to be one thing. It can be anything it wants to be, a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, the mumblings of wild men saddled by demons.”
Ishmael Reed,

So last night I finished reading Barbara and Allan Pease's book The definitive guide to body language. It was well worth the £6.99 or whatever it was on Amazon. Hopefully this will allow me to add a further dimension to my characters with their subtle changes in body language. When you read a book like this it is surprising just how much you are already aware of. The nice thing about this book though is that they tell you why things happen. For example if you touch your nose when you lie- its because the blood vessels in your nose expand or something like that making you want to touch your nose.

Its very good - definitely worth reading. And very comprehensive. It covers everything from the direction your feet point to why women wear lipstick! Very interesting.

I have decided to leave the grammar course until next year and for now concentrate on Under The Coconut Tree and sending out more submissions for The Bittersweet Vine. A bit disappointing it has been about a month and only heard back from two agents! Although someone somewhere did say October was a busy time. Maybe I'll have more luck in November.

I'll leave you as I start reading The Penguin Guide to Punctuation.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The beautiful part of writing is that...

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Robert Cormier

That is what is such an amazing thing about writing. Its always a learning curve. The beauty of it these days is that people share their mistakes and learning with the rest of the world - after all it makes us more human - thank you social media.

Anyway I logged on to www.selfpublishingreview.com last week and I was reading an interesting article on reaching your target market when I thought I would take a look at the resources page (I can never just do one thing at a time) - I thought I would open the page in a  new window whilst reading how to reach my target audience and  minutes later I had at least ten further pages open. This kind of slap shod research is no good to anyone because I cant really say who said what or provide valuable links for all you writers out there. But I will try and share the information I have gleaned.

Well for starters I stumbled upon two web tools to help authors. The first is www.paperrater.com Which is a free on line grammar check. I am not sure how many authors use this and surely it is just the same the the spell check and grammar checker on word? I don't know. It detects plagiarism and provides a little guidance on style. I am not convinced that a computer can do the latter and given that I have no clue about punctuation in the first place I think a site like that (for me) is best avoided.

Secondly I came across www.polldaddy.com - This looks pretty good. Collect data from your facebook, linked in and twitter followers - This could help in market research and if I wasn't so busy opening multiple pages I probably would have signed up. It is definitely something I need to look at. Is it similar to survey monkey? probably but if it creates some stats for you based on your social media hits and what not - well then it is probably.

Of course there is also www.twitterfeed.com  which I said to myself 'Oh that looks interesting' and then realised that i already have an account. It also provides stats on who has clicked through from your twitter account. Needless to say I need to do a bit of work on that.

I also came across some pretty useful writing website and blogs such as http://writinghapiness.com and http://thedigitalwriter.net and one I definitely will be going back to www.writingforward.com

All these sites provide a plethora of information for all writers out there. And best of all it's all free!
One of the sites even had an article on 20 careers as a writer : Could I see myself as a greeting card writer? - no Although I was tempted after watching 500 days of summer. A writing coach - well I could see myself doing that. After all I nearly trained as a life coach it would be like missing the two together and I can be pretty motivational when I put my mind to it.

The final nugget of information that I found was in an article by @jimhbs where he asked why authors were so cagey about giving out their email addresses. he said he could find twitter details, facebook details and feedback forms but no contact email address. http://hbspublications.blogspot.co.uk - I guess a lot of us don't want spam but when we are so desperate to get out there why dont we put an email address out there?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A story is a letter that the author writes to himself

“A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.” Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

The shadow of the Wind is one of my all time favourite books - so why not open with a quote from it. So I now have some free time after quitting the gym- bad idea - I have put on loads of weight and now have to re-join the gym- bad times. Shifting weight is so hard - but not as hard as editing your manuscript- that's the worst.

I have also read Tweet Right by Nicola Morgan and my followers have gone up - yay- mostly because she recommends some good authors to follow - who have kindly followed back. I must say I have realised I have been going about twitter all wrong and I am now hoping to increase my followers and retain them (unlike what I have been doing)

The book was good- because it was short and it got to the point so if you are on twitter and want to know what to do and how to improve your tweets buy it! And for only a couple of quid its worth it just to get some twitter addresses for some really lovely authors.

People have suggested to look at www.wefollow.com which shows you popular tweet accounts and their bios - you can look up writers or musicians etc

I am now anxiously waiting for my Amazon order so I can start reading on body language and How I should be writing a novel... I am also anxiously waiting for rejections from my last lot of submissions.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live...

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” - Issac Assimov

Where do I begin? Well not much has happened since I last blogged but I have some time to my self for the first time in ages and that feels good. 

I completed the edit of The Bittersweet and H has edited the first three chapters as well. He has a talent for this which is good. At first I was a little worried as The Bittersweet is probably only the 4th book he will have read-but he knows his stuff - punctuation for starters - and how words flow. he can be quite critical as well which is good for someone like me. I am seriously getting him to edit the whole book for Kindle - now there's a discussion. I know many people publish to kindle without having a professional edit it and they do just fine - I mean if your punctuation is pretty good - do you really need an editor? 

I don't think I can answer that but perhaps I need to do a survey monkey test to see who thinks it is important! 

So with completing the edit and getting H and someone else to punctuate the sample chapters I sent them off to 7 more agents!!!! two rejections already in less 24 hours- both with full lists - is that just a standard reject then? 

The search for an agent continues... either that or I need to seriously start thinking about the cover design for The Bittersweet Vine. 

So anyway with some time on my hands I have decided to get some reference books. I have done some extensive research and I am going to buy the following:

Tweet Right  - Nicola Morgan (Already bought!) I loved her how to write a great synopsis book so I'll let you know how many followers I get after reading it. Currently I only have 70! so get following @marissadeluna if you are not already. 

The Penguin guide to punctuation - good reviews on amazon and will compliment the course I am about to start in grammar (November!!!)

The Complete handbook of novel writing - Meg Leder - written by several writers - each taking different chapters - I scoured the web for ages for a book like this and it seemed to fit the bill so watch thsi space

The definitive book of body language - typical I didn't write down by who- but I am pretty sure if you tap it into amazon it comes up- its bluey purple on the cover. Looks great - and you need a book like this if you want full rounded characters. Well that's what I think in any case. 

So I shall be reading whilst H reads through The Bittersweet. I am really happy with it - much happier than I was with Goa Traffic. 

Also I finished reading The Girl with the dragon Tattoo. Its funny now I always Google an author if I like their work or follow them on twitter. Is that because we live in an age of social media? or is it because I am so used to doing stuff like this as a writer. I think its the first. Anyway as most of you will know Steig Larsson is dead - sad - He was clearly an amazing writer. I look forward to reading The Girl Who played with Fire. - although they are long books - Maybe over Christmas. 

Anyway... so watch this space in regards the rejections that will be flowing in. there is that wintery chill in the air and actually I quite like it- nothing nicer than cosying up with a good book/movie on a winters day! 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer...

“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
― Maya Angelou

So I am nearly there- 4 more chapters to go. The last couple are always the hardest because the revelations and the twist need to be accurately and passionately executed.

I am also loving The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its such a good book - why did I wait so long to read it. I have also started compiling a list of books that I want to read - like Dorian Grey and The Book Thief, The Help and Keepsake (which is self pubbed), The old man and the sea - Hemmingway and Metamorphosis - Kafka- Its about time I educated myself- do all authors have to be well read? I don't know but surely you should know the classics. I do read a lot- and yes I am not completely unaware of good literature- I have read Shakespeare, Chaucer, some of the Bronte's work - Which reminds me of one of the first books that I read and loved - it was The Bronte's and it told the story of the family. It inspired me as a child - the way they created their own little books that they used to write stories in- maybe then I should have known I wanted to be an author.

I am also contemplating going to a self publishing conference in the new year. Not only will it be educational but I may meet some self pubbers and its all about contacts and networking isn't it?

I also (time permitting) would like to profile my customers. As in who is likely to read my book (who is my audience) - what do they like doing in their spare time? where do they go on holiday? - I think by creating a consumer profile I will be able to know where to advertise my books. Goa Traffic is selling well but it can do better - The KDP newsletter tells me that every month or so. Self Pubbers out there are selling hundreds of books a month. I am going to see where I can get with it. Many people say that if you have more than one book out - you are not just a one hit wonder and you get more sales- We'll see if The Bittersweet goes that way. Anyway watch this space for tips on consumer profiling and advertising your book to the right people. I know I said I would quieten down on Goa Traffic after I sold 1000 copies (only 10 copies to go) but it has spurred me on!

I feel like time is just slipping away at the moment. I am busy compiling a comprehensive list of agents to send The Bittersweet to - hopefully at the end of the month. Chupplejeep is not going anywhere for now.

Friday, 28 September 2012

I love deadlines.

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Sorry I know it has been awhile. I appear to have done nothing in the month of September. Well not nothing exactly - I took a train around Italy from Bologna to Sorrento and had an absolutely amazing time. Nothing very Literary to report about. I noted the Keats -Shelley Museum in Rome but did not go in and I ate and drank far too much. By the pool in Sorrento I read The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson. It was a nice change after all those psychological thrillers I have been reading - a gentle holiday read and very apt as I was in Italy. H also bought me the most fabulous leather bound book for me to keep a proper log about Detective Chupplejeep and all the other characters in this series. I love it to bits - I love stationary is that geeky? or is it because I love writing? Whilst in Italy I did write a plot for the next novel in the Chupplejeep series - It has a working Title of The Body in the Bath - I wrote it on some hotel paper - so I hope I can find it amongst my stuff. I was also debating on the spelling of Chupplejeep - LE or EL - I mean its supposed to be pronounced as Chappal - Jeep. H gave me some good advice (for a change) and said it was my character and therefore I could spell it like I wanted - so I choose Chupplejeep!

So basically right now I am STILL editing The Bittersweet - up to chapter 47 and its a difficult one- its the unravelling bit of the story so I have to get it right. There is quite a bit of internal monologue in this chapter as well so it is taking some time. I still have 8 chapters (inc the epilogue) to edit - what a pain - but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also no more rejection from agents but no more requests to see my manuscript either- we'll just have to wait and see. A friend from writing has given me his comments on how I can increase the intensity of the first couple of chapters so I need to go over this and send out some more submissions. I am now planning to send all submissions out so by next summer I will be in a position to self publish ... we'll see.

Also any ideas on how to increase site visitors to my website? I know I need to link it and cross reference it. I have been a bit lame on that front. I am getting about 250 odd hits a month- I don't know if that's good or bad. I get more Blog hits. But sales for Goa Traffic are increasing so maybe its working - I don't know.

Also watch this space - I am hoping by the end of October to sign up for an on line grammar course.

Anyway back to writing!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer...

“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
― Maya Angelou

When I started writing I had heard of self publishing or Vanity publishing as the case may be – and back then (although it was only a couple of years ago) It was definitely classed as more vanity than anything else.

Google was (still is) my all and so I found information on different POD companies and as many of you know I chose the hand holding Authorhouse. I don’t have any regrets. I went in with my eyes open Goa Traffic was never going to make any money but it was sales that I wanted. With the rise of the e-book sales of Goa Traffic have really taken off and the paper copy is selling too. Was this hard work or luck? A bit of both

Now self publishing is common speak. Everyone is doing it or thinking of doing it. Some traditionalists still say a Trad publisher wont look at you if you self publish- and well I haven’t been published traditionally so I wouldn’t know if they are right or wrong but for me self publishing works. It reduces the drama level of finding an agent and you are in control. Plus it appeals to the business side of me. After all I did do a degree in business studies and have always wanted my own business- so Yeoman Publishing, “Marissa de Luna”  - ticks those boxes for me.

But again I am going off on my point. What I wanted to say was that I recently found two good websites/blogs that I feel truly encapsulate the whole drama of self publishing and if you are thinking of self pubbing definitely read the articles below. The first is from an agent turned author Nathan Bransford – he really knows his stuff with a vast amount of useful tips, articles and links and the second is Writer Beware a great site with all the Pro’s and Con’s on self publishing.

I wish I had known about these portals of information before I started – especially the Writer Beware website – after all if you go in with your eyes open whats to lose?

As I persist with The Bittersweet I find I have a few options
-      E-publish with a view to Pod publish.
-      Persist with sending out submissions to agents
-      Leave it on the back burner and carry on with Chupplejeep.

Watch this space…

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The past is always tense, the future perfect.

“The past is always tense, the future perfect.” - Zadie Smith

I haven’t blogged in so long I don’t know what I have and what I haven’t said. In brief I have had quite a few rejections now for The Bittersweet. Two with a positive feedback about the plotline and title and a note saying that my sentence structure needs to improve. I have to admit that this last comment traumatised me slightly – so after all my ranting of who has time for commas I have realised that if writing is my passion- if its what I said I want to do with the rest of my life then perhaps I need to bite the bullet and do a English Grammar course.

I feel like a traitor going back on my word that grammar is not worth it- but I have come to realise it is- we send our manuscripts off to get some feedback right? So if we don’t pay attention to that feedback we are shooting ourselves in the foot.  The court of public opinion is what I said counts for quite a bit when it comes to self publishing and I stand by my word. Recently when my friend from writing group added all the commas for me in my submission he said that my grammar is not so bad- I always thought it was terrible. I still think it is but I guess him saying that means there is some hope for me. I cant go though life closing my eyes to bad grammar – I have a problem (gee I feel like an alcoholic)

Although now I am curious to what an editor does- because surely I write the story and the plot- they do the edit?! It’s a bit like do what you are good at. I am no good at editing and grammar so surely someone else should do that- The publishing world have spoken and no they expect it from authors! Again I am no good at cleaning but I don’t have a cleaner (yet!)

I found a course from The Publishing Training Center called Grammar at work for £45 it’s a 12 month on-line course that should improve my grammar- who knows from then on I might even be able to do a editorial course and then I will be self sufficient as a self publisher---well maybe I am getting ahead of myself! First I need to learn to walk.

So after I have finished The Bittersweet Edit- don’t ask the edit is so painful right now- chapter 40- what was I thinking? It doesn’t make sense – half of it was useless chat- I had to pretty much re-write the whole chapter- it took more than a couple of hours. I have only reached chapter 41- I have another 13 to go. – I will the do my grammar course

Where has the year gone? I am still only 25,000 words into Chupplejeep – will I finish the first draft by December? I doubt it.

It all sounds very drab today. Have I lost my writing spark? Most certainly not – Am I becoming obsessed with The Big Bang Theory and New Girl ?Absolutely- for some strange reason I have become addicted to these two programmes. I guess I need some time out – all the short story writing, all the researching into different writing tips, how to improve characterisation, write better , edit better has just worn me out and I need a break. A relaxed Grammar course is what I need to get me back on track and a holiday.

End note: I found another quote which sounds  makes me smile when said with a Pooh accent: “My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A creative man is motivated by the desire...

A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others
Any Rand
If you follow this blog you will know I try and start every new post with a quote- not always relevant but mostly. Today I feel thouroughly de-motivated and even though I wanted an 'editing quote' I thought I would look up motivational quotes instead. This one caught my eye- its not inspirational but it it true - definately about me and I am sure most writers out there. Although I recently read some very informative tweets by Jeremy Dunn on Sock puppeteering - I didnt even know that term existed and about people fabricating accounts to write reviews on book (not so bad)- but slating other peoples books - very bad. Anyway reviews are another thing- I have trouble trying to get friends (who have read my book) to write reviews. But I digress.
So reason for my de-motivation- The Bittersweet - I am still plodding through the chapters- currently on chapter 30 and today is a writing day so maybe I will get to chapter 33. Do I want to do this laborious task? NO - Do I want to get on with Chupplejeep? YES. Do I Have a choice- well I guess I could leave the Bittersweet for a month or two and then go back... no this would never work!!! Ever. I have to complete it by October with the silly deadline I set myself. The good news is that the book is improving vastly- this deep clean edit really works (for those of you who dont know- its editing each chapter almost as if it was a short story - so they are succinct and flow)
In other news... well there is none- I am re-reading my friends manuscript again and I will dust off Grammar for Dummies and thumb through that as well ... oh and I received another rejection for the Bittersweet. I am sending a submission to two small presses today and then I have promised myself thats it till October when I will review my initial submission. I am still wiating for two responses - I hope I get some sort of feedback. The desire to self-publsih is pretty strong especially given the current success of Goa Traffic. But... I will wait for more rejections before I do this again... what shall I say 20?!  And of course the worry here is that there is no USP (unique selling point) GT has Goa but Bittersweet waht could I tag that under?

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Moment comes when a character does or says something...

The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn't thought about. At that moment he's alive and you leave it to him - Graham Greene

So a while back when I was struggling with Characters and making them real I googled what to do- of course I found a plethora of information out there in the world wide web and I am pretty sure I blogged my findings. What did I do- In short I:

  • Interviewed each character so much so that I even knew what meal they would order in a restaurant
  • Found a celebrity to play each character – who knows The Bittersweet may one day be filmed- but that wasn’t my main reason it was so that I could help visualise my characters- Of course I did this late in the day so I already had to find people that looked like my creations
  • Gave my characters tags – Penelope fiddles with her hair, Sunil has a silver ring on his right hand he cant leave alone
  • I made sure I didn’t overkill the description of characters features and what they were wearing just one or two features were enough – and described in the subtlsit ways- of course get your readers to do some of the work- if they create the character they will remember he or she.
I also realised that characters have to have –what I now call 50 shades- no not erotica – but no one person is 100% good or bad and this fact was brought home even further when I read K M Weiland’s ‘creating unforgettable characters’ go on to her blog and subscribe to her emails and you get a free copy of her book about creating unforgettable characters - which is excellent –http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.co.uk/ – She of course covers the above in greater detail but also provided my new word for the day Dichotomies- she says and correctly so that we love characters that are not only fighting with their own circumstance but with their own natures as well.

Its at times like this that I wish I did some more reading on writing technique before I started writing- GT for instance- but really if I had  and I hadn’t already written a book would I know what this was all about?! I keep telling myself I wouldn’t.

Weiland goes on to talk about your characters attitude, characters people care about (why would you want to read about someone you don’t care about), professions for your characters – be daring don’t make them all doctors and receptionists- give them random jobs- search the yellow pages she suggests! I like it- the same with names –the names have to reflect the character- and yes this is stereotyping but its true – names reflect background and can really change the dynamic of a character. Think of your own pen-name – why did you choose it- or if you stick to your own name why? What was it about your name that made you keep it- I can bet its because it says something about you- Take de Luna for instance- totally an author name and its my name- I think it sounds dynamic- maybe you don’t… but apply it to your characters.

Also the characters have to come alive in your mind- hear voices in your head? You’re not going mad you’re an author! I saw the movie Miss Potter before I started writing and if you’ve ever seen it has Jemima Puddle duck and Peter rabbit as drawn characters running around in Miss Potters room – in her mind, everywhere- First I thought (and remember I wasn’t writing at this stage) – this woman was mad and that is what the director is trying to show. Then when I started writing I got it! Slow I know but…

Anyway the moral of the story is write, write, write and read KM Weilands  free e-book and blog for more tips… and of course this blog. Also just to let you know Goa Traffic has sold a record breaking (for me at least) 112 copies in the month of July… Big thank you if you bought a copy…Closer to my target now… maybe I’ll hit it by the end of the year!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success

A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success
Bo Bennett
Well the submissions went out and can I just say in less than 24 hours I received one rejection. Oh the pain! Well it wasn’t so painful. There was a silver lining- basically the agent must have looked at my website as they said that whilst they were not interested in The Bittersweet they would be interested in seeing a submission for Detective Chupplejeep…. So watch this space – I am hoping he is my golden ticket. But lets see.

That is pretty much all my news - Lame I know. I have signed up to a few writing bloggers. As I previously mentioned Jeff Goins http://goinswriter.com/and now K M Weiland: http://wordplay-kmweiland.blogspot.co.uk/  See I am learning to add more links as I go! and on twitetr I found a great blog spot by Janice Hardy  http://blog.janicehardy.com/

I should have loads of new ideas now but to be honest I haven’t had the time to read through all the links and blog posts- One message is clear though – if you love writing – just do it!!!! I did manage to read an article by Chris Guillebeau http://chrisguillebeau.com/– a link from Jeff Goins and I downloaded and read his article on how to make a career out of social media. Some of his ideas were good, and definitely I think what he is doing works for him. He touches on what success means to you – and how everyone defines their own success. I agree and I think it is important to have this definition set out in your head before you start your journey- otherwise how do you know when you are successful? Recently (even before reading the article I have been thinking about this) basically I used to define success by having my own business. But is that really successful? No anyone can start their own their own business – but success would be having a financially productive, or financially stable business of your own. Of course I yearn for that day but why not turn this around. This was my dream before I started writing. Writing is like having a business all on its own. I define success when it comes to writing as selling books for money. As Goa Traffic is selling in such a way I define this as a success – not when I have broken even but when I have sold 1000 copies. I hope that day is sometime this year.

Anyway success definitions aside I am still struggling for time. I have just finished my first full critique of writing buddy’s book. I think it’s a learning experience too - critiquing someone’s entire novel. I enjoyed it and I hope he doesn’t hate me after doing this for him. Work is manic and so mostly I am brain dead in the evenings which is slowing down editing of the Bittersweet. I am up to chapter 17!!! Woo hoo- when I reach chapter 25 I will be halfway- hopefully by mid August.

I have started working again on Chupplejeep – don’t you hate it when you leave a part completed manuscript for months and then have to re read it to get back to your flow? I hate it- because when I read back, I edit, I confuse myself – It’s a long process. I am looking forward to completing this penultimate edit of Bittersweet so I put all my energies into Chupplejeep. My deadline for the first draft is December. In March this seemed plausible- damn life for getting in the way! I cant believe it is now August! Where has this year gone… 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tweet Tweet

No I haven't purchased Tweet Right yet...I am going to. I was just perusing through twitter and I have stumbled upon the very popular Jeff Goins. Currently reading his website and some of the articles are excellent. I thought I would share with you:


Its about how to get more followers on Twitter- So watch this space (well actually follow me on twitter @marissadeluna) I may well be breaking the rules soon... because who wants to be boring?!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

we rate ability in men...

“We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt” - Think Exist (sorry don't know who said this - it didn't say)

Well I cant believe I am at this juncture again. Well i can I have been harping on about it for the last however many months. So mwriting buddy proof reader has added all the comma's I needed and actually said that my punctuation is not all that bad apparently its the same mistake I keep making with dependant clauses!! hurrah- now if someone would tell me what one of them is I might get it.... only joking but I do need to learn. Think of the time and money I could save.

Writing Buddy - Lets call him Mr X - because I don't like using peoples names if they are not bloggers and don't have an on-line presence because they may not want me to share information- anyway Mr X has also given me some good pointers on how to improve the first three chapters. So I worked on it late last night and now have a completed submission package!!!! VERY EXCITED!

I am sending out five submissions (lucky agents!) - arghhhh it is scary and at the same time exciting - but deep down I know it will amount to nothing! I mean psychological thrillers are two a penny aren't they?!  You see this worries me about all us wanna be trad published writers - I mean would you take a chance on a new writer when Sophie Hannah does it so well. There is no USP I suppose to the run of the mill writing. OK I can churn out four books a year (if I didn't have a job) and yes they are readable and I know from Goa Traffic that people enjoy them and are willing to spend money on my work - but is it anything different? I don't know. The Chupplejeep Mysteries certainly are interesting... For now I will send out my submissions and hope some agent somewhere sees some potential. Goa Traffic was the learning Curve - Bittersweet is now going to be polished within an inch of its life (well for a year) before I self publish.

I am increasingly finding I don't have the time to complete the deep clean edit of Bittersweet _ I am only on Chapter 14 - and If I do have the time I don't have the energy- so I haven't been to the gym this week and have been eating more chocolate (for energy of course) This is not a good combination so somethings gotta give. Anyway I am hoping its just a blip!

Goals  for the rest of the year- Completed deep clean edit of The Bittersweet Vine (by October) then send out 10 more submissions. With a fuhrer 5 more in December

Finish the first draft of Under The Coconut Tree... by December - currently only 20,000 words in....

Also in return for Mr X adding in commas I am reading his book and the current chapters are set in Rome- its giving me some inspiration to go abroad and write....Rome especially is beautiful.... Ah if only I was there.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Choose a job you love

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life
Well I like writing and that isnt going to pay the bills is it? Maybe one day. So this blog posts comes with all the ususal caveats...its not been proof read of even spell checked. Work has been absolutely manic I even had to wrok late yesterday - this is no good thing for an impatient writer- I think my impatience is getting worse. I am good to go with my submissions just waiting for my proof read first three chapters- here i have to be patient as my proof reader is not doing this for money. I am being patient well at least it is teaching me to be patient. Its a good thing - plus his critique and comments as well as the commas will be invaluable I know. So I keep telling myself I will send out my 5 submissions a couple of weeks later - its not like the agents are going to be champing at the bit to be signing me up (sob) - Anyway my personal deadline was the end of July.
So what have I been doing - apart from the normal job that pays the bills I have been reading - Just started something by Barbara Vine. her books are pretty good- fact she is Ruth Rendell. Just in case you didn't know.
I have not got any further with Under The Coconut Tree - which is a shame but meanwhile I am getting super inspiration for the original book number 3 which has now moved to book number 4 - Living the dream- yes bad title I know but listen it is a work in progress.
I have also seen the Olympic torch.... see that and the Jubilee makes me a different person than I was this time last year. This time last year I would have pooh poohed the idea of watching the Olympic flame- I hate sport- well hate is too strong a word- I am indifferent!
That's about all my news. I am going to buy Tweet Right by Nicola Morgan - and See if I can drum up a few more followers.... Well her how to write a synopsis really did wonders for me especially her 'crappy memory tool' method- I recommend it to all. Yes I know I need to post links. But I so have to be in a meeting in a few minutes and I don't have time.... urgh I have talked myself in to it here you go:
There you go - see I always say if people have the time to say they don't have the time- they have the time. I feel bad buying a book on how to tweet right - I mean you should know shouldn't you- but then again my following is poor.
Also while I am linking up if you want to know more about the Jubilee check out my other blog http://thelensandthequill.blogspot.com/  Urmi was with me for the Olympic torch so maybe I will do some stories about that as well.... you know life experience and all that.
So writing group today and I have no writing to take...I know I am still editing The Bittersweet - its having a deep clean and I am only on chapter 13.... deadline for this is October so I have time. But in between I want to finish Under The Coconut Tree....I think I will be reading a bit of this at my next group (biting nails....so scary. It so different and funny and am I funny? I just dont know)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death.

Tears are sometimes an inappropriate response to death. When a life has been lived completely honestly, completely successfully, or just completely, the correct response to death's perfect punctuation mark is a smile. Julie Burchill

So how polished do you have to be when you send out submissions. Well of course your submission should be word perfect. Why? Well for one ,if you havent taken the time to be word perfect, punctuation and all, are you really that keen? how bad do you want to be published? It doesn’t show much willing if you don’t try and be perfect. I realised this with Goa Tarffic- maybe I had conceeded failure before I had even sent the submissions out. I can say for sure my first chapter wasnt thrilling- Goa Traffic has a slow star- but some books just have a slow start don’t they? Well maybe they shouldn’t as S J Watson recently tweeted – you wouldn’t watch a film where nothing happened in the first hour…. Dare I mention Castaway... maybe not FYI Tom Hanks is my favourite actor so I watched anyway – although the non-speaking business was a little tiresome.

So I have given my submission to someone in my writing group o punctuate (well I will send it this weekend). How have I reached this stage in my life with no idea on how to place a comma? I am ashamed – I cant even begin to describe! I am definitely going to be reading my language for dummies book again! 

But it got me thinking – what are agents looking for? Are they expecting really polished pieces of work? and if you are that polished surely it inhibits your creativity (or its me just being jealous of people who know how to punctuate) But lets move away from the puncuation… back to my age old argument that everything is subjective – What does an agent pick a writer on- well it must be a combination of things: 1) a novel will sell 2) a writer they like – likeability is super high on the list I think – it’s very important 3) a writer who produces good quality work – but what is more important – I would say the creativity – the plot but maybe I am wrong maybe it is the quality of work. I suppose it is all subjective and each agent will decide their own criteria- but anyways – I am waiting my return of the submission package so that I can send it on to 5 agents – Watch this space!

Ohhh and also H has finally started on my mobile site so you can now look at http://www.marissadeluna.com/ on your smart phone or i-pad without your eyes being totally offended by the garish unmatching colours!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I Paint my own Reality

I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. - Frida Kahlo

Great so I got my first two star review- on good reads. Well it was bound to happen wasn’t it?! It was just a star rating not an actual review- I would have liked some words to see what exactly they didn’t like. It is good though in a year I have only had one bad review. I expeceted more when the kindle sales started to rise because the more people that read it the more will write reviews. What is comforting is the fact that if you are annoyed and don’t like something you are more likely to write about it than if you do like it. So I take some solace in that- although for £1.00 on Kindle are you really going to write a review if you don’t like it- some will of course but others are probably apathetic about it.

Another question I had was this- well not so much a question but a thought. I have just read Sugar and Spice by Saffina Desforge – if you have read my previous blog posts you will know that I loved it.   now that is solely on Kindle ( I think) and I gather the author is doing really well. Say J K Rowling (and I use her as an example because everyone know she got oodles of rejections and went on to be a multi-millionaire) well say she just self published Harry Potter – would it still be as successful? Of course not – because Harry Potter has had uber Marketing. This is what the publishing houses have I suppose in order to make millionaires-most of us don’t even want that- all we want is to make a living out of it so we can spend our days writing and not working!!! I think with the correct marketing a self pubbed book can make it – like Sugar and Spice but what marketing did she have? or was it just such a controversial book that it got people talking? after all Word of mouth marketing is unrivalled surely

FYI I love the above quote - writers like artists write because they have to, they need to and I definitely write whatever passes through my head... which begs the question are writers insane? or do they just have very active imaginations... or is it just creativity? I am not sure. I wouldnt call myself creative and I am pretty much straight down the line (not insane) but my thoughts are random- I have realised this from fellow workers. I do create scenarios in my mind all the time about what if's? Anyway thats another blog post altogether.