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 – – 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 now K M Weiland:  See I am learning to add more links as I go! and on twitetr I found a great blog spot by Janice Hardy

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– 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…