Friday, 31 January 2014

If you do not breathe through writing...

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. Ana├»s Nin
Hurrah January is nearly over! I normally hate January. I mean what’s to like – it’s cold, it’s dark it’s miserable. I’m usually broke from the year before and carrying a bit of Christmas weight making my muffin top look like a pound cake. However, this year January has not been so bad. It has been rather pleasant- a bit long and a bit rainy – but nevertheless at least there was no snow.

I have ordered and now received 500 bookmarks split over two designs from Stress Free Print (the designs are fab and not that I’m bragging but I designed them myself (didn’t want to but really I had no choice- H was indisposed and I was impatient as usual- both for Bittersweet) and I plan to target some reading groups with these as I said in one of my last posts. I have to say as an author looking for places to print (cheapish) bookmarks I really struggled. Then I came across Stress free Printing but I was dubious because you have to pay before you can see how your art work will look. Anyway with no other alternative I bit the bullet and I can say that I am super pleased with the product. They told me that they didn't think the quality of my image was great – I wasn’t sure so they sent me a free printed proof. It looked fine to me (clearly my standards are not as high) and after I approved this I received them (free delivery) in a couple of days. A great service. I am impressed. I went for a thicker card at 350gsm but actually I think 300gsm would have been sufficient for promo bookmarks.

I even had a press release printed in The Ocelot magazine in January about Bittersweet. I will put it up on The Bittersweet page of this blog and it should appear on my website soon. In fact my whole website needs an overhaul. I must pester H. It doesn't show well on tablets and mobiles which is a must these days so I need to rectify that. I also received an email from my publicist at Thames River Press telling me to get tweeting. So Tweeting (in particular lines from Bittersweet) I must do. If you are not following me already – please do so @marissadeluna

I am also closer to completing Under the Coconut Tree although it is a long way from print! It will be going to a new writing group I have joined (well a sub group of my exiting group – where we critique full manuscripts- yes I know I am a geek)

And joy o joy I will be starting to edit Poison inthe Water in Feb! It’s a meaty book (think 87,000 words at first draft) spanning Celeste Renshaw’s life (protagonist) from the time she goes travelling through her tumultuous relationships and out again the other side. I have sectioned it into three parts, which I think works quite well. When I started writing about it I wasn't sure that I actually liked where it was going but actually – after an epiphany in the car on my way to London one Friday evening I realised what a good book it could actually be! It has therefore transformed. Much of the book is set in a therapists office where Celeste looks back on where she started and how her life turned out. I think this book is really going to touch hearts and lives and of course it is a thriller so there will be  a lot of suspense and of course a twist you wont see coming – that’s if I get through the editing process. I am being a bit less gung ho this year and planning to finish a first edit and a deep clean edit by the end of April. That should give me enough time to do a couple more edits in time to get it to my publishers in July! Oh how I hate editing. Well hate is a strong word. It’s a love-hate thing. I love it sometimes. Its nice to get stuck into a project- make it better- make it work- enjoy adding bits here and there which will surprise the reader, leave chapter endings on cliff hangers and add many twists to the tale. But geez it’s laborious and painstakingly slow. So much so that half the time you want to chuck the manuscript out of the window!

Anyway – what else have I been up to? Well for one I have realised just how good Mslexia is! It’s a website for women who write and I will shortly be subscribing to their magazine. They just have fab tips and workshops on their site (even if you don’t subscribe). It is definitely worth a look if you get the chance.  I also note that tickets are on sale for TheOxford Literary Festival. There is a good session on Indian writers which I may go to- given The Chupplejeep Msyteries. And The Chip Lit Festival is also on (Chipping Norton) in April. There is a great line up and one particular event where they will be comparing crime fiction to fact with a real life forensic! I so want to go to this, but I think it clashes with something else I have planned. Perhaps I will have to rely on the shed load of forensic, criminology and forensic psychology books I have ordered! Anyway take a look at what they have to offer.

And finally that course on learning how to punctuate I must enrol…. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

It's all in the symbols - In a nutshell.

It is all in the symbols - adding symbols to your novel. Part of the 'In a nutshell' series.

I have studied quite a bit in my time from a degree to a masters to a professional qualification… but when I started writing I didn’t want to study about anything. I wanted to just get on with it. The end result was Goa Traffic. I didn’t think about adding any symbols or the likes but subconsciously I must have known about the importance of using symbols in a novel because when I look back now I see that Goa Traffic has quite a few important symbols within the novel.

Now, when I talk about symbols I am not talking about sci-fi sort of symbols like crop circles and the likes. I am talking about Lisa’s black ballet pumps in Goa Traffic which represent her ‘safe’ character. I am talking about the ‘bittersweet vine’ as in plant that is said to represent truth in my second novel, The Bittersweet Vine. Maria’s hair styles and as they change through the novel are also a symbol to show her changing personality.  

And when I talk about symbols I am even talking about the weather. Before I had even contemplated writing as a hobby/wannabe career and I was in school studying Jane Eyre I remember writing ‘WRA’ in the annotation column. WRA stood for 'weather reflects atmosphere' and I can tell you that every writer uses the symbolism of weather to reflect emotions and atmosphere. The use of weather is a great way to add that extra dimension to your ms.

Once you are aware of symbolism and how it can draw the reader further into your story you will want to add some subtle symbols to your novel. Start simply -  A cloudy day perhaps when your protagonist is unsure of a decision to be made. Rain can represent tears. But don’t over-do the weather either. I noticed this on editing The Bittersweet Vine - every five minutes it was raining or thundery. There was way too much WRA and it was over-kill. I needed to get rid of some of it and I did. But that is what editing is for.

It is also an idea to think about the symbols in your own life when you are writing. That silver ring you always wear – why? – because your best friend gave it you you moments before she took her own life… In my new book, Poison in the Water, yet to have its first edit. The humble bumble bee makes an appearance and is a strong symbol in the novel. The bumble bee represents a hard worker and loyalty but it also has a sting in its tail if it is pushed too far.

Also after reading a book on colour therapy I find that emphasising colours in your novel can provide a meaning on a subconscious level. In Poison in the Water fuchsia is used quite a bit in contrast the gold bee which is the ‘Cross’ branding (Cross is a high end boutique store which the protagonist works for). I have never liked Magenta. I don’t think the colour suits me. But recently I have been drawn to the colour. It was one of the reasons why I started looking into colour therapy. I found it odd that given my whole life of wearing blacks and blues and any other dark colours that I was suddenly craving colour. Yes that is all I can describe it as – I was having a colour craving. At university (I did a degree in business) I did a module in semiotics and it was fascinating to learn how colours in adverts make consumers more likely to go out and buy something. There is a whole world of subliminal messages out there! Use them! 

I found out that magenta is the colour of harmony. The colour that allows you to create your own path and increases your chances of living your dream. It also allows you to let go of emotional patterns that prevent development and it is uplifting. Now I don’t even mention all this in Poison in the water. I don’t want to bore the reader to tears. But it is interesting to know. And I think colours have those subliminal messages even though we are not aware of it. Use colours like symbols in your novels.

Anyway that is enough for me. if you are still not convinced think of the book you are reading now, it will have some symbolism in it. Think about what this is as you read and see how it makes an impression on you – subconsciously. When fine tuning your novel I think it is important to add symbolism to you novel. For sure you will already have some of it in there – without even thinking to add it, but if you are aware of its importance you can refine it so that it creates a powerful impression on your reader and in doing so it will create a book your readers will not forget!

On that note happy writing and editing! 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Be proud of your achievements.

Be Proud of your achievements. Many talk about writing books but few reach THE END. - Mary Malone

And it's the new year!

So 2014 is here! Where did 2013 go? At the beginning of last year I set myself some writing goals. One of them was to have over 500 twitter followers. I know it’s not a large number but I needed something to get me off the ground. I achieved it! Yay but my tweeting and re-tweets is less than impressive. I think I need to read Nicola Morgan’s Tweet Right again.

Another goal was to reach a total of 2500 sold units of Goa Traffic. I have accomplished this too! Even now as I type Goa Traffic is selling well it ranks around 12,000 on the kindle charts (UK) which is good enough for me. I also wanted to publish The Bittersweet Vine. I managed to do this. Originally I was all set to self publish it but after getting a deal with Thames River Press I have been lucky enough to experience what it is like to work with an agent and a small press. 2013 has therefore been fab! The one thing I haven’t done is sign up for that publishing grammar course – therefore you can see my punctuation is still horrendous.

The first (sketchy) draft of Under the Coconut Tree has been written and I can finally say I have finished the first draft of my next novel, Poison in the water (think sketchy skeleton draft!). So I have reached my goals and I have written another book but really I need to get The Bittersweet Vine selling.  January is a time when there are  many new e-readers out there - so marketing my existing books has to be my main priority!

I feel Goa Traffic has settled in the market but it has a connection- Goa. What does The Bittersweet Vine have? How can I get it out there to the public – for free? I have been lucky enough to get some initial publicity through my book launch and my radio interview and with the Good Reads book giveaway (A hearty congratulations to the three winners in the US!) but what next?  I can explore the whole sibling rivalry route along with betrayal and then there is the hysterical amnesia aspect as well. But how can I turn these plot thickeners in to sales?

Goa Traffic is labelled under 'India' on Amazon and that is the reason it gets noticed. I have 31 Fab reviews for the book as well. Is the reason because it is a couple of years old now? Word of mouth is a wonderful thing. But what of The Bittersweet? Will it establish itself too and this time next year as I begin to publish Poison in the Water will I be laughing as Bittersweet climbs the Amazon ranking list?

If I don’t put in the hard work I doubt it! Work is immensely busy at the moment which means fewer lunch hours scanning the net for writers blogs, marketing tips, reading etc. It also means my brain is half dead by the time I go home and I find myself lately not wanting to do any marketing. I must snap out of it and soon… where will I go with my marketing in 2014? Watch this space!