Editing

I dmerm curse cover2on’t do line edits on my work anymore. I pay someone else to do them. It’s better that way. Mainly because I always miss lots of things. The two words that sound the same but are spelled differently. The occasional word that is spelled right, but isn’t the right word. The wrong hyphenations. All things I have issues with.

I do try to fix them, and even have a little cheat sheet of past corrections that I can go through and search for. I also search for over used words, like “very” and “flooded”. Too much flowery language kills. Not enough bores.

What I do for my text is go back through and reread everything a couple of times and try to pick out sentences that just don’t sound right. Maybe the meaning is fumbled, or the wrong word was chosen. Maybe a sentence was placed in the wrong order.

The longer the project the more work I have to do like this. It’s annoyingly time consuming. With short stories I barely have to do any because the story is all right there and I’ve been reading over it constantly to write it so everything kind of just works. With a novel I’m only ready short bits of it at a time to help me write more in the section I need to complete, so sometimes I end up with inconsistencies, and whole paragraphs and pages out of order.

The chapter I am currently working on for Mermaid’s Curse has been in the works for a while. I started writing it at the end of January, then I got sick in February and wrote nothing, so this week I am finishing it. I’ve almost completed it and now I am going back through it and rearranging, adjusting, taking out, and in general… fixing it.

Now, this one chapter is over 6000 words already. It switches back and forth between Marizza, the main character, and Artiro. There is a lot of fighting, spell casting, curses, and creatures to keep track of. Of course I got some things wrong. I am going through tonight, since I have only two small sections left to write, and finding those words that are just inconsistent with the rest of the chapter. Pulling them out. And throwing them away. Still… the chapter is over 6000 words even after pulling out a few hundred of them because they just didn’t work. And I still have those two sections to write.

This novel … it’s a novel. A full length honest novel with a society, magic system, fully developed characters, mystery and more. And I’m so proud of it. I’m also SO HAPPY that it’s almost done and I will never have to read it again! (At least not until I start putting those finishing touches on book 2 and I need a refresher.)

A note about the cover… That’s a working cover and it will not be the finished one. I like it, but it isn’t quite… enough. Ya know?

Anyway, here is to hoping that next month I will be adding a vlog here where I am holding an honest to spaghetti monster BOOK in my hands.

Venturing out of the Hobbit Hole

2015-01-27 00.23.12The books are here! And so are my tickets. I’m going to RadCon!

Oh God! I’m going to RadCon!

Okay Crissy, breathe, it’s okay. We can do this thing!

In all seriousness, I am excited and worried, and nervous all at the same time. I keep telling myself that this nervousness I am feeling isn’t anxiety over crowds of people I don’t know, no it’s EXCITEMENT. Because excitement is just as gut twisting and hard to deal with, but not as scary.

So, I’ve got the books, and maybe I should pack an overnight bag.

Also, writing is going swimmingly. I am back to my 1000 words a day, and feeling great about finishing a few more chapters. I have added another 8,000 words to Mermaid’s Curse since the beta reader made some suggestions. Wow, that’s a lot more then I thought, and I still have another 5-10k to go. The final scene I’m writing is, of course, a big battle scene that I’m leaving to the end because I dread writing battle scenes.

So… If you are at RadCon tweet me. Come say HI!. I’d love to meet you.

Write, rewrite, write some more

So… I finished a book.

Then someone read it, and she gave me some critiques on said book. And now I’m stuck writing another 10-30k words.

To be fair, I could have said “no. You’re ideas are terrible. I don’t believe you. I’m gunna throw a tantrum and go over here in my corner and put up the book I WROTE because I WROTE IT!” Ya know… like ya do.

But her ideas and her insights were spot on. I found myself nodding along with everything she said. “This chapter is a little hard to follow the POV.” Okay, I can adjust that. “The book would be stronger if you added in this persons back story.” Okay, I have that and can add it. “We could connect to this character better if you showed her learning magic, not just bang and she has it.” Point. After point. After point.

This is my first experience with a beta reader. I’ve always just done what I could with a story and then set it out on it’s merry way to do what it could. I’ve also mostly stayed with short stories because they were easier to trouble shoot then entire novels. I have the story in my head. I know who does what when and for how long. I know about the first time they kissed, and the first time they cast a spell. But my reader doesn’t and it’s far too easy for me to forget what my reader doesn’t know. But the beta reader, especially one that hasn’t seen my notes or talked with me about what’s going on, they can tell me where the story lags, and what confused them. They can give me great insights.

So… Mermaid’s Curse book 1 isn’t as finished as I thought it was. I have to add a few chapters, a little foreshadowing, and rework a couple things. But over all I am happy with this, my first beta read. I think the book will be stronger, and people will love it all the more for this. Mainly… I think I will be proud of what I put out as a finished product. And I think I can do all of that in a month if I actually work on it.

KIDS ARE BACK IN SCHOOL! All of them as of tomorrow. YES! I can finally write full time (minus the day job) again! So awesome!

The Story Writes Itself- NaNoWriMo Day 8

I’ve done a few interviews this month, and a common question is: “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”

It’s a good question. A lot of new writers struggle over this one, trying to figure out what works best for them. And in the end, that’s the real key; finding what works for you.

I am both. I write out some plots, and I know that the more detailed the plot the better writing the actual story is going to be. But while I am writing that plot out I am also writing some of the scenes, dialog especially, that will appear in the final version.

In fact a lot of my stories start with a conversation with two people concerning a person, place or thing.

But once you have your plot, and it’s marked out in detail, don’t be afraid to deviate from it. Let the story go where it wants to go. Sometimes it will just loop right back to the end. Sometimes you’ll find something was missing from the original plot. Every now and then you’ll discover an entire person missing from the plot.

This NaNoWriMo I started with a basic plot that outlined all the chapters. The first two chapters dealt with Marizza, a witch, and how she fell in love with a merman, and conceived Okira, the cursed mermaid. The novel was suppose to be about Okira, and her struggles.

As I wrote it I realized I was struggling because Marizza’s back story, and the world building, were just a little thin. So I set about exploring it one day thinking I would just add little bits to it later, but it would be just for my information.

The story didn’t want to go that way, Marizza was more important then I realized, and her story wanted to be told too. So “Mermaid’s Curse” is going to be in two parts, in one book.

At first I rebelled against this notion. It’s suppose to be a paranormal romance, and romances do not come in two parts, and they usually do not follow the lives of a mother, then a daughter. But I realized I had to let the story write itself. If I forced it to be something it wasn’t then it wouldn’t be as good a story.

The wonderful thing about being an indie author is I don’t have to conform to conventions. I don’t have an editor or publisher to answer to. I can just write the story and let it be what it wants to be.

So maybe the story is more epic fantasy then romance at times, and other times it’s more romance. The main plot of the first half is the romance developing between Marizza and a merman, and how the curse came about. The second half is about the romance between Okira and Brother Hawk, and how they defeat the kraken. In both cases there is a lot dealing with their love lives, so I’m still going with “paranormal romance” for now.

But if the story wants to be epic fantasy… well I guess that’s what it gets to be.

Writing Backwards

I had an unusual solution to an old problem today. I’m probably not the first person to come up with this, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

I was working on a chapter for “Forgotten Ones” in which the two fates, Maylin and Jadina, are walking down a tunnel in search of a particular creature that will hopefully lead them to the big bad guy. I knew how it began, and how I wanted it to end, but the middle… not so much.

So, I started writing it backwards. I read the last paragraph and thought “how do they get to this spot”, and add a paragraph describing that. Then write the paragraph, or mini scene right before that.

For example….

June is walking down a path, and knows that the monster under the bed is at the end of the path. She’s going to walk down the path, see some interesting things on the sidelines, and eventually end up at the monsters den. She goes in the den, there is a little fight, and June ends up sitting on top of the monster with the monsters feet tied up.

So, that is my beat. I write the first section with June walking through the woods, and entering the den, no problem. I am really good at that part. I write the ending with June sitting on the monster, and a little quip about the monster having too many hands and not enough brains. But in the center I just have “battle”.

Battle scenes are the hardest scenes for me to write, which is annoying since a lot of my books have them. But what are you going to do… unless I try and find myself a co-author I’m stuck for it.

So, with this particular story that I am just making up on the spur of the moment, if I try writing it backwards as I just did with “Forgotten Ones” I would think… How did she get on top of the monster? Well clearly she had to have all his hand already captured so the paragraph before would be her locking up the last hand, then swinging her leg over the beast and having a seat.

Then what happened just before that? Well, it has a lot of hands, so she is going to have to dodge them as she is tangling them up in a long ribbon. (This is where I just realize she has a ribbon to tie up the hands.)

Before that, there needs to be some tension. Maybe the monster grabs her ankle and drags her down, and she manages to get herself loose by tickling him.

And just keep going backwards until I have a full story. (On a side note, this sounds like a fun story to write as a children’s book with pictures. Maybe some day.)

In other news…..

I now have nine books available on Kobo. I have two more in queue to be on Kobo, but they are coming.

“Forgotten One” is now 25,000 words long, and I am a little half way through the final edits. Plus the two chapters with battle scenes that I have to finish… sigh.

“Potion Shop” is almost done, also. I really need to just get that out there. Perhaps this weekend.

Hypercritical

I haven’t published ANYTHING in a couple of months. It’s depressing me a little.

Now, I realize I’m being hypercritical of myself. I am watching the word counts go up, the chapters get finished, the edits work… but the bar I placed, publication, isn’t happening. It hasn’t happened in a few months, and it bothers me.

Objectively, this is ridiculous. Other authors spend months writing, editing, and publishing novels. If you go through the gambit of traditional publication you may only see one or two books A YEAR come out. I did eleven, in six months.

I should be proud of myself. I should be happy with my progress. But ultimately, it isn’t enough.

But I think this is a good thing. If it were enough then I wouldn’t be pushing myself so hard to write more. If it were enough then I wouldn’t be striving to up my word count, fix my formating and spelling on older books, or attempting to come up with book covers that don’t suck too much.

I am taking comfort in the fact that this isn’t enough, because it means this is incredibly important to me. To go farther, write more, and tell my damn stories to everyone willing to listen.

My stories should be seen. They are worth it. It’s never going to be “enough”, so I’m just going to have to get better.

FAQ- Editors

FAQ- each week I’m going to pic a frequently asked question and answer it here. You will be able to find the entire FAQ on a page soon.

This weeks question:

“I finished my novel, and now I need an editor. Is it normal to get an editor lined up, and for them to take weeks, or months, to get back to me?” (paraphrased)

No, that isn’t normal. An editor should get back to you within the week unless they tell you they are going on hiatus for a while. But perhaps you are too swift to choose your editor.

Every editor I’ve worked with I’ve asked them to do a sample edit. They usually get 2000 words, go through it, and see what it’s like. That way they know if they want to work with you, and you know if you like the way they work/edit. That includes how fast they answer emails, how they respond to your work, etc.

Not every editor is going to fit your work. Some are terrible at it, but claim they are editors anyway. Others won’t like your style or subject matter. Some will just be over booked and unable to give you any help, but may not want to brush you off right away.

My advice… go find a few editors. There are several places you can look. Elance, Predators and Editors, or just Google “editor service”. Even amazon has a relatively cheep editing service for .012 cents a word through Createspace.

Do some homework on the editor you are trying to get, and **get a sample**. Most will not charge much, if anything, to do the sample. Check them out on Facebook, G+, and Twitter to see if they get any good/bad reviews through social media.

Most will ask for half up front, the rest when finished. If they ask for all of it up front then RUN! Price, in my research, has been 2 cents a word, so for 79k words that’s about $1500.

It may also be helpful to get a few people to read your manuscript before sending it to an editor. Beta-readers help you iron out the roughest bits before an actual editor gets a hold of it. Always a good idea.

Good luck.

Charting Progress

It has been a long time since I shared my progress in writing every day, but I think it’s important, at least to me, because it is an act of accountability. I hope it also serves to inspire others to start on the journey of “writing every day”.

A few things I learned….

  • Completing a project is like coming to the edge of a cliff.
    • Once you reach the edge, where do you go? I am starting to see little ledges and paths below so that I can just continue to write on another project, but this takes practice.
  • Editing, formatting, book covers, and marketing SUCK!
    • I don’t mean they suck, as in they are terrible, I mean they suck time away from writing. Some of these things only take a few minutes a day, but editing… man that’s a time suck. At which point I write a lot less.
  • When I’m stuck, I need to switch projects for a little bit.
    • As long as I continue working on the “PRIME” project a little every day I have given myself permission to go nuts on something else, often adding 1500 words to another project in my list, or coming up with another idea for later.
  • My word count is improving!
    • The best part, that rising blue line marking “average word count” is going up and up and up, and it’s awesome! I am really close to 1000 words a day on average. If I keep this up eventually I can write a book a month instead of short stories.
  • Can’t wait for NaNoWriMo this year!

chart

 

Self Publishing – $1500?

I’ve been following Joanna Penn since she appeared on “The Self Publishing Podcast“. She’s a very interesting, thoughtful, and educated woman. She’s got her stuff together, and her books are pretty good too.

She often links to interesting articles about writing and publishing on her twitter and facebook. That is where I get a lot of my “This week in publishing” links.

Today she linked to “How Self Published Books are Made Start to Finish“.

The first thing I notice is a list of “things you should have” and one entry:

  • Money to invest in said book. I wouldn’t start this without $1,500 in the bank marked ‘I can lose this’

Who can afford to just mark $1,500 dollars as “I can lose this”?

Okay, I understand her reasoning. There are editors, book cover designers, marketing, print books, advertising… Ya, there are a LOT of things that go into writing, publishing, and selling your books. Even if you go with a simple cover design that you put together you probably need to buy a licenses for the art work, unless you have some art skills.

But… $1500?

I’ve got 8 books out now. I’ve spent a total of $400. All of that went to editing one book, “Osiren’s Tears“. Granted, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the the editing. It seemed rushed, and I know someone who could have done a better job for a little more money, but he wasn’t available then.

Editing is worth the investment. Some day, I hope, I will make enough to have everything I have already put up re-edited, and then re-published as a new, better edition. But I’m on a budget, and my budget does not include $1500 to blow.

The nice thing about going indie in ANY industry (movies, music, writing, theater, art…) is that you can invest what you have. You can outsource, barter, scrimp, save, and adjust.

Here is what you really must have for self-publishing:

  • An idea
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • A plan
  • A finished manuscript
  • The ability to take criticism
  • An edit
  • A cover
  • More patience
  • The willingness to ask questions.

Only two of those things might cost you some actual hard earned money, and there are ways to get around that too. Got a friend who is an artist? Suggest a trade. You’ll do something for them (babysit, cook, clean, wash their car) if they design a cover for you. Got a group of friends that like to read? Will they be your beta readers and give you some good feedback on cleaning up your prose? Writers workshops are free, and often help a lot.

Another wonderful part about indie industry is that there are a lot of people doing the same thing, and willing to help out in many ways. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, look for tutorials on youtube, read a how to book, and ASK QUESTIONS!

Now, granted, just throwing your book up on amazon will not bring a lot of sales to you. That’s where marketing, and word of mouth comes in. But if your book is good, interesting, and well written, and you put yourself out there where people will see you, then you have a good chance of getting some readers.

Then the trick is to start the whole process over again. The more you publish, the more noticeable you will be. This is true even for really bad writing. There are some terrible books out there with awful covers, and horrible grammar. But they keep producing, and there are people who read their stuff. Go figure.

Point being… you can produce a book for the low cost of ZERO dollars. Doesn’t mean it will be good, or sell, but you can do it. 

And if it is good, or just pretty good, and you get some sales, then maybe you can start saving up for that $1500, and a proper release of a bigger project later.

Adventures in a Book Warehouse

A friend called me up the other day and told me about this amazing sale. A book warehouse was selling everything, just $10 for one bag of books. And you brought the bag, any size.

Well, I had a rolling cart. I could fit a lot of books in that thing. Maybe even a couple hundred. Didn’t matter, she said. Ten bucks.

2013-05-30 20.01.24

The warehouse was actually three buildings FILLED with shelves of books. The shelves were pretty close together, too.

Enough that I sometimes had to squeeze through to fit. 

Books upon books, stretching out as far as you could see. All of them mixed together in no logical order.

We were hunting for hours to find any that we might like.

2013-06-01 08.14.57

Many of them were romances. A lot of mystery. It took me hours to find some sci-fi and fantasy, or paranormal. But I eventually came away with a nice stack of books. I grabbed some Nora Roberts, who seemed to be one of the most prolific authors there, and a few Dean Koontz, and then a bunch of random books with interesting covers.

And you know what I discovered while crawling through those three buildings with thousands and thousands of books laid out before me? Mind you, I could throw as many as I wanted in my cart, and price wasn’t really an option….

2013-05-30 20.20.18

Book covers are boring.

Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and more… all of them.. boring covers.

You have the authors name in HUGE letters, a boring picture, and not much else. Most of them just labeled them as “fiction” so I couldn’t even get a read on what kind of fiction it was. It was frustrating… three warehouses worth of books and not much time to pic out a book, and this is what I had to choose from.

2013-06-01 08.18.28I did manage to find a lot of books with good covers… but it was hard to find them. And a lot of them were meant for younger children.

I notice that Sci-fi and Fantasy are more likely to have expressive covers. Romance is likely to have two people kissing, or something like that. Paranormal will often have an expressive cover.

This is why I work so hard on my own covers. I want someone to be able to look at a glance, and get an idea of what’s inside the book. So far I think I’ve done alright… You be the judge.

all mini