Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

The frustrating thing about editing this ‘raw’ version of Poison in the Water is that I keep looking at the word count thinking yes 60,000 words to go. But I have noticed that during my last fit of editing the word count is just increasing so the 60,000 words is staying static! It’s so frustrating. The WIP is now 90,000 words. I am sure I will have to trim the fat at some point but I fear for my sanity by the time I finish editing the first draft.

When I was editing The Bittersweet Vine I had a different tactic. Short sharp edits which involved me doing at least three re-drafts by the time I reached this deep clean edit stage. Instead of going through chapters quickly I have decided to sit done with each chapter and do somewhat of a semi-deep clean edit. I’m taking my time with each chapter but not perfecting them as I go as I am sure there will be changes to be made to some chapters in retrospect. I am hoping this tactic- although more arduous at present will save me time (and the will to live) in the long run.

I am itching to start writing The Body in the Bath however I have forbidden myself to do so until PIW is done! Nevertheless there is more to life than editing and apart from eating and sleeping my other two favourite pastimes I have been doing some reading. Quite a bit of reading. I have read Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussman which I absolutely loved, The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell and Muscle by David Barry (another Thames River Press author- I thought it only polite to read some other books published by the same house as me). I also read Shadows on the Nile by Kate Furnivall, which sadly did not meet my expectations (I found it all a little far fetched) and I’m currently reading Wanted by fellow writer Tim Arnot. Its part of a trilogy and it’s the first book. It’s set in the future and is a young adults book. So far I am really enjoying it even though it’s not something I would normally pick up. That is the great thing about knowing some authors! You don’t get stuck to your genre. You can check out Tim’s blog here: http://timarnot.blogspot.co.uk Tim has written a couple of short stories set in the future and you can get these on Kindle for not much money (Perhaps for the price of a packet of crisps!) so be sure to check them out! 

But speaking of genre after having a break from reading thrillers I am itching to read some Jo Nesbo and perhaps I’ll get round to reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn- Better late than never.

All this reading and it’s only February! Although I am enjoying reading at the moment- I’m having one of those moments when I feel I really need to catch up on books that I have been dying to read but haven’t had the time. This year is all about making the time to do those things I want to do! – Or perhaps its just distraction from editing and not to mention marketing! The Bittersweet Vine is falling in the ranks and I need to get my act together in marketing the thing…. So difficult when I am desperate go get Poison into a readable state! Well here is a bit of marketing – Looking for your next read? Check out this fast paced psychological thriller on Amazon. And if you have read it – please write a review!!!  – until next time…

Monday, 24 February 2014

When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd job.

“When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”
—Margaret Laurence

I know many of the readers of this blog are still debating the perils of trad publishing over self publishing. You’ve finished your manuscript and you don’t know what to do. Face the rejection or going down the traditional route - who knows you might get lucky or just self publish and again you may make it big (In both cases I believe your success is partly down to luck and partly down to how much time and effort you are willing to invest) . A writing buddy recently sent me this interesting report on author earning which I thought I would share the link with you lovely people. It’s a fascinating debate on whether you should use traditional publishers or just self publish and the result is that the self-pubber wins. Personally, the way I read it is that if you get one of the top five publishing houses and you are not just ‘mid-list’ then you are better sticking with trad publishers. Additionally if you write genre fiction – so your book slots perfectly into ‘romance/ mystery/thriller’ categories- you have a high chance of earning well by self-pubbing. But the article doesn’t just paint a rosy picture of self publishing. The author clearly indicates that in order to be a successful self-pubber you have to have some dedication, determination and a bit of luck.

If you want to make a career out of writing or even just make a bit of pocket money then you must read this article. Here it is:

If you don’t read the article you may be interested in this link below sited in the article.  It’s a calculator to turn your amazon rank into a sales predictor. Good, if like me you haven’t published yourself and what to chart your rank and therefore sales figures alongside your marketing efforts. Also it’s a good guage to see how many books you are selling so you can 1) do something about it if sales are poor and 2) help you boost motivation whilst working on your next project and 3) know what to expect when you receive that first royalty statement.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

In a nutshell - Mood and Tone

In a nutshell – Mood and Tone

So we’ve covered characters, details and symbolism in this ‘In a Nutshell’ series and as part of The Bittersweet Vine blog tour. The next two topics I would like to cover are Mood and Tone. 

So what exactly is tone? They say that when you are having words with someone via text or email that it is difficult to judge the senders tone and therefore things said one way can be taken another. You must have experienced this yourself. You read a text- perhaps an innocent – ‘you weren’t there at Ally’s party.’ Perhaps the person sending it is thinking I really missed you being there. But you have had words with this friend before you know what a drama queen she can be, You imagine that she is talking behind your back with your other friends and you read the message with a derogatory tone. Instantly you delete this friend from your list of contacts but later when you meet her face to face you realise it was all just a misunderstanding.  You also know what its like when you (at a much younger age) answer your mother Tone is therefore a mixture of two things: attitude and emotional atmosphere.

And, of course, this tone is dictated by the author. The tone in which you write will dictate the way the book is ready. Now, you may not have thought about this before you started writing your manuscript, and all is fine within your book. You subconsciously may have written in a tone (mostly through the plot- think suspense, mystery, comedy) and your readers can pick up on this. But think about it as you edit. For example Chupplejeep is light hearted- its comedy. Yes there may be dead people and murders but the way they go about solving the case is quite different. It’s not too serious. It’s an hour or two of entertainment, there is no psychological mystery that will make you question those around you like some psychological thrillers do (and what I hope you do when you read The Bittersweet Vine or  Poison in the Water).

As authors we need to create the right tone for the reader throughout the story which will feed into the overarching mood of the book. Why? To prevent misunderstanding and to signpost readers; tone can help with plot and can move the story along as well as setting the right atmosphere for your reader- remember you want to transport your reader to a different time and place when they are reading your book! (Yes our jobs are so difficult! So much to accomplish in 90,000 words or less!)

Mood is the feeling a reader will take away from your writing and more often than not from your characters and their point of view. When you write from a POV you want the reader to get inside that character’s head and therefore the reader will take on their mood. If your character is a happy go lucky character you will have something quite joyous and light hearted in that part of the book. If your detective is depressive and temperamental then the mood of that part of your chapter will be sombre. The mood can change from chapter to chapter and I think it’s quite important to have various moods throughout the book (why? It creates more drama, more tension and remember for some authors it’s about taking their readers on an emotional rollercoaster).

In my last nutshell post we talked about atmosphere being reflected through the weather. We can use this example again to set mood. Thundery weather = a bad mood. Rain = tears (well not so clich├ęd but you know what I mean). The words you use will also affect tone. For example if your character is down beat and uses negative words – you will create a negative mood!

Tone and mood will contribute to the atmosphere of the book and when you are hosting a party you want the right atmosphere (you want guests to be happy and have a good time)- it should be the same when you write a book- you want your readers to feel certain emotions- happy, sad etc. The tone and the mood you create will affect the atmosphere of your book. Have a think about the mood and tone of your book as it’s another element that may get you that agent or make those sales! It is also a good to be aware of this in regards to genre writing. If you are going for a mystery or thriller you need buckets of tension and suspense – red herrings and dark alleys and only you, the writer can create this! 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Writers live twice.

“Writers live twice.”
—Natalie Goldberg

So I am committed now to writing a series. You may have heard me banging on about this before. The Chupplejeep Mysteries will be the over-arching title. I hope it is a cross between Alexander McCall Smith and Arvinda Adiga and it’s a lighthearted detective series. Why am I thinking about the ins and outs of writing a series? Well because I need distraction from the laborious task of editing Poison in the Water. Yes, I have started that labour of love (It can be called nothing else) and quite frankly I really feel like I am re-writing the whole novel. It’s a deep clean edit with 66 chapters (at present) spanning over 86,000 words. I am at chapter ten. It’s a bit of a milestone for me. I managed to read the prologue out at my last writing group session and it was received well. Well just about. It had some flaws which I have spent the last 24 hours sorting out, but I am there now. I realised I haven’t read out in writing group for ages – I had almost forgot the benefits. Perhaps reading out a bit more will motivate me to continue with the editing.

I have got to say I kind of have a love hate relationship with editing. Half of me loves it- I feel like I am truly achieving something; developing the characters further and making the plot a bit slicker. The other half of me detests it. I look at how many words are left to edit after spending one hour on less than 500 words and I want to cry. I check my sales ranking for Bittersweet and Goa Traffic for some motivation and keep at it. Why am I doing this? I ask myself.  I’ll get through it eventually. I’ll have edited Poison so much I will be sick of the book when its ready to go to the publishers!  Anyway as usual I digress!

Back to the perils of writing a series! Firstly I have realised I can’t even think about completing book one (and I mean completing, completing as in ready to send to publishers) without having written book two. Why is this? Because I need to get to know my characters. The ones that will keep reappearing and I think the only way I can really do this is if I write another book with them in it (see more on this below!).

There has to also be a common thread that binds the books together. For me it’s personal character progression. At the start of book 1 Chupplejeep is afraid of commitment. His girlfriend Christabel is desperate to marry. By the end of this book he will have made a decision as to what to do- all whilst solving crime mind!

In book two – which I have a provisional title for – The Body in the Bath- well in book two the relationship has to progress – If Chupplejeep decides to get married he will have the worry of the cost of a wedding on his shoulders. Perhaps the thought of having kids. If he decides to stay single then will Christabel leave him?

And if you are writing two books in a series why not write three! Chupplejeep is not going to be a one hit wonder. I am thinking at least five books in the series if not more. But I don’t think I need book three just now! Although I am toying with an idea of a jetty boat – typically Goan. I also want to set some familiarities for the the reader. For example in the first book, Under the Coconut Tree, I want the body to be discovered under the tree. The second book- the body in the bath- is self explanatory as to where the body is found but I like that idea that all criminal acts take place in relation to the title of the book. So perhaps a body by the jetty in book three?! I think these common threads are what keep readers interested. It is also these little nuances in familiarity which make readers come back for more. We all like something we are familiar with.

Chupplejeep and his sidekick will also be the main attractions of the series and in order to do this I need to perfect their characterisation…. In order to straighten out what I want for my characters I have to really get in their minds. Perhaps I could write a blog in their names! Gosh that would be a good marketing idea as well. Or perhaps I should keep a diary for them instead- who knows when I’m famous (ha!) I could publish their diaries as well!  So writing book two before I have completed book one will delve deeper in the each characters psyche but I need to do more than just this. I’m thinking in depth personality questionnaires. Living a day in the life of Chupplejeep – getting right inside his head! What would he talk about at a party? Who would be want to talk to and what would he say? What are his favourite words to use? All of this needs to be written down dissected and analysed without the characters seeming to ‘made up’. Hmmm it sounds daunting. I think I’ll get back to Poison in the Water now.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The price of a book...

So lets have a think about pricing!

I have noticed that my publisher Thames River Press is maintaining the e-book for Bittersweet at £3.58. Initially I thought this price was too steep for an unknown author - but I thought- hey they know what they are doing but then I started to worry that my sales rank would drop. Then recently I read in an article in the Society of Authors which mentioned the cost of ones work.  The author of the piece suggested that an ebook is often sold for less than the price of a packet of crisps and basically that made me think. I mean really think. 

As authors of the e-book revolution - sure we need to make a bit of cash - to cover the cost of those bookmarks but how little value are we attributing to our work when we price it so low? In France apparently they have set prices for books that you cannot go below ( I am not sure if this is true or not but I am sure I read this somewhere).  I can see this being helpful but at the same time I can see why we as authors de-value our own work. With a lower price you sell more, get more reviews, get ratings up and therefore sell even more. Perhaps then after this has all happened we should raise the price of our books to the equivalent of buying a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar? I don't know. 

Also as authors, lets face it, its not about the money. It's about the love for writing. We know we have to write whether we get paid for it or not so in that respect the money is just a bonus. What is most important to an author is that we want our work to be read. We want to provide some entertainment for people. A low price will result in more sales and therefore entertain more people than a book with a higher price. 

Any e-book author who has self published will tell you that setting a price for your book is an art in itself. You have to play around with it, watch the market and eventually you will get a price that works for you. As a reader I do buy books with a lower price. The time I have to read is limited though so if there 

By looking at the ranking for The Bittersweet Vine the sales have somewhat dropped. Is this because of the price hike? Is it because I haven't done much marketing? I can't really answer those questions but it is something to think about!