Authors Problems

I have been so busy going over edits for “Osiren’s Tears” that I haven’t been actually writing much. I feel like I am slacking, it’s horrible.

It isn’t like I haven’t been doing anything. I have to reread every line of “OT” to be sure the editors edit agree with my style (most are grammar/spelling/punctuation, so it’s a gimmie, but a few are just a matter of style, and choice.)
I’ve also been redoing the cover to get it “perfect”, trying to get a good description blurb, and working on some formatting issues.

I’ve been spending hours on all the little things, but not actually writing.

So I am looking at my word count chart and there is this huge dip after I finished “OT”. Nearly a week with very little, and sometimes no writing. And I feel so guilty!

But this is a good thing… so I said to heck with it all and sat down and wrote a couple scenes for a “super secret surprise”.

It felt good to actually write again, and hopefully I can get it done in the next week.

Small Bites 1 cover

Three flash fiction stories. “Beware the Werewolf”, “Chimera” and “Griffins Flight”

Three flash fiction stories. “Beware the Werewolf”, “Chimera” and “Griffins Flight”

I just finished “Chimera”, the third story in Small Bites.

Now it’s off to be edited so that I can put the first of the books up.

There will be four of them, each for .99 cents, each with three really short stories. Then I will do the full “Small Bites” with all twelves stories as one $3.99 offering, and raise the singles to $2.99.

In other news, “Osiren’s Tears” is well on it’s way to completion. I am in the process of finding an editor. It is almost 30,000 words long and definitely needs an edit before I put it out.

This will be my first full length book out. It will be at $3.99 I think. But once I have it up I will also start offering some KDP select free books, so look for that soon as well.

Taking a Stand

One of the problems with writing is the wear and tear on your body. Of course the idea that sitting down at a keyboard and typing is bad for your health is actually counter intuitive.

Now we know about repetitive motion disordercarpel tunnel, and similar issues. We know that slouching can hurt your back, and there are even articles that people who sit down a lot at work die sooner. Diet and exercise?  Sure, in between the 30,000 words I’m trying to crank out just this month.

They have standing desks available, but they cost a $2-300, more if you want something nice. Even worse, you already have a desk that you then have to get rid of. And if you want to stand for some things and sit for others… You can get cheap ones for $30, but the good ones cost more.  The best option, a tred-desk that keeps you walking while you type, can be $3000.

Today my legs were killing me just from sitting down too much over the last few weeks. I’ve been writing a lot (a lot for me, of course) and I don’t have the luxury of a standing desk. I decided to find a solution to it today. Something, anything, free so that I could just stand up while I was editing.

My solution:

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I bought an old secretary from the thrift store when I moved into my apartment. The cord on the monitor was the perfect length to put it on top of the desk. Then two boxes to set keyboard and mouse on… simple solution. Free.

My legs don’t hurt as much today. I keep moving, walking back and forth, getting water, or dancing to my favorite song, and it feels so much better after just a day.

And my writing is going so much better because I’m not stopping every few minutes just to get up and stretch. I can just keep going. And I’m not distracted by games, because it wouldn’t be very easy to play them this way. Much easier just to write and edit.

Best of all, when I want to sit down and play a game I just move the boxes and the monitor back in place and get to the games.

 

So I have a convertible standing desk that makes me feel better, and more productive, which I paid nothing. Ya, Good day.

Vacation from the Vacation

I took a very long weekend from my day job. It was very relaxing for the first three days. I got a lot of editing done (as I was using it for a working holiday.)

And then the kids came home for the beginning of there mid winter break. And my boyfriend and I had to deal with the little flare ups that happen when three teenagers living in a small apartment, and stuck inside for much of the winter, start getting on each others nerves.

Vacation from the vacation. Such a common phrase, and I’ve used it a few times.

I find it odd that we complain so much about wanting our time to ourselves, to retire, and not have to listen to bosses, and yet many of us end up craving that time at work. To get away from family? To be productive? To have something to do? Probably a little bit of all of it. I know I love my family, but I can’t spend five days stuck in a house with them anymore.

So what is the point of a vacation if you then need a vacation from it?

I think its a great time for perspective. It’s a breather to step away from your every day life and just take it all in. Kind of like sleep is a break from the day where your brain resets and organizes the thoughts for the day.

And it is a great time to reaffirm to yourself that yes, this thing is the thing I want to do with my life. Not corporate america. Not the 9-5. But this creative endeavor that absolutely makes me feel like I have accomplished something wonderful.

Back to my corporate american job tomorrow. But I think it will be a great escape from my house, and give me something to do while I contemplate the next move with my novel.

Homonyms

Spelling. It’s been a struggle for as long as I can remember. And homonyms just make it so much worse.

Then vs Than

Site vs Sight

Effect vs Affect

And, of course: Your vs You’re

That last one I rarely mess up on because every single time I write it I say to myself “you are” to see if it fits. It’s annoying, but useful habit and nets fewer instances of grammar nazi’s attacking me on forums.

I honestly wish they would drop “than” and “affect” from the written language. If you’re talking you can tell the difference just by context. If you are reading it is the same. Having the different spelling just makes it complicated, and makes my editing take another day just hunting down every single last instance of “then” so I can double check… is this related to time, or comparing something? Can I just remove that word all together?

English, with its many homonyms and unwieldy phrases, is a horrible spellers worst nightmare. And yet… I chose to write.

I must enjoy pain.

How to be a Success

I was having a conversation on Twitter last month about making writing your day job, and I sent this to the guys over at SPP:

I thought I’d expand upon this “simple” idea, because out of all the writing books, blogs, articles, websites, podcasts, and videos, everything distills down into these four points.

1. Write Well.

“Well” seems to be such a simple word. But it includes a lot of things. Grammar, spelling, characters, plot, and everything else involved with a story. It also involves knowing the difference between a workable story, and something that you should just let go.

You can always get help with the mechanics of a story. Workshops abound. Editors are for hire. You can even hire a ghost writer to write up the idea/plot/storyline you came up with and stick your name on it (not generally recommended.)

If you have a compelling story, with characters your readers care about, then you are headed in the right direction.

2. Write a lot.

Be PROLIFIC! I can not stress this enough. I don’t care if you are writing in your journal every day, but the fact remains the more you write, the more you will write. However, you shouldn’t JUST write things in your diary. Practice writing short stories, articles, blog posts, and anything else. Write as though you are writing to someone, expecting someone to read it.

Writing also helps you improve your ability to write. Grammar and spelling, as well as just coherence. This goes for reading as well. If you don’t read, or hate reading, then how can you write well?

3. Publish often.

Some of the best selling authors are there simply because they write a lot of books. The more books they write, the better visibility they have. The better chance someone has to see something they wrote that was great. 

Here is a list of some prolific authors, many of which are well known.
4. Engage readers.

Email lists. Blogs. Fan mail. Twitter. Facebook. Websites… really it doesn’t matter how you engage your readers, but the internet makes it incredible easy to do just that. If you don’t do so, or come off as a grumpy old guy/gal who doesn’t give a half a penny for their fans then it is less likely you will grow your reading ranks.

Look, we live in a connected world. I actively talk to some of my favorite writers now. I send them tweets, or comment on their Facebook status, and they answer me. It’s awesome. I love the fact that they know their fans are their bread and butter, and they love interacting with me, and all the other people who love their work.

Kim Harrison got feedback for, and changed the cover for one of her new books. Sean Platt and David Write added three chapters to the end of their series to clarify their writing. Piers Anthony has answered every single fan letter he could, and even included characters, puns, and small plot lines to really engage his readers.

Will all of this get you tons of fans? Ultimately only time can tell, but these four things will get you closer then any one of them by itself.

Misconceptions

I find it incredibly frustrating when I finish something, and then figure out it wasn’t finished after all.

There it is, laid out in all it’s wordy glory. There is a complete plot, a few fully fleshed characters, and a wonderful vista for their story to take place.

Putting “the end” on a manuscript is so wonderful. Knowing it’s finally finished, edited, and complete.

Then you send it to be read and when you get the comments you realize… it isn’t finished at all.

Such a terrible feeling. But all you can really do is pick up where you left off and polish some more.

I have a lot of articles and want to make a book, can I?

Recently someone asked if it was possible to compile all of their articles together and make one ebook for sale on amazon. The biggest problem with this is that most people looking for a non-fic book are looking for something specific to one subject. The few exceptions are things like “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, but they are all “uplifting” stories, or “amazing facts” style books, and thus have a running theme.

So if you find yourself in that position here are some tips to help you make it into a single book.

First, ask yourself if you are trying to put random articles together, are they relevant to one another? Because if they are not then it is probable that you will have a better chance marketing them as individuals to magazines for reprint.

Look for themes. Health and wellness. Colonizing space. Agriculture. Uplifting stories. Children. Wedding.

You can take 4 or 5 articles with a similar subject and rewrite them into a non-fic book on that subject. Then drum up readers by having your book linked from your main page of articles.

So find a way for them to work together, a common theme, or subject, and make it into a book, not just random pieces put together.

Scivener

I have been taking the last week or so to convert all of my novels to Scrivener. It’s been a learning experience.

First, let me explain something. I don’t have one file for each novel. If that were the case of things would have been so much easier.

No, the novel I was working on today had nine separate files. The nine files happened over the years as I switched from Lotus, to Word, to RTF, and between three or four different PC’s. Each file had different parts. Two of them had nearly the whole thing, but each was missing some part.

I finally figured out the fastest way to compile these into one file was to open nine subsections in Scrivener, and paste each file in a separate section. Then I compared and compiled the sections together until I had each unique section, and could separate everything into chapters.

It was time consuming, but worth it. I am sure that I missed some minor things, or basic edits that I will have to redo, but all in all the time spent doing this was worth it.

Next I will have to compile this into one file so that I have a back up. But a single backup is much easier to handle then nine.

Why Scrivener?

Over the last few years there have been a lot of people who suggest Scrivener as a writing platform, so I decided to use the free trial and see what all the hub-bub was about.

I actually didn’t get a computer until I was 21. Before that it was always pen and paper. My first computer came with an old program called Lotus Word Pro, and (of course) Word. For years I refused to leave Lotus because it had one feature no other program had.

With Lotus, you could click a little button at the top and it would show each section of your file as a little tab above the ruler. You could then group the tabs and/or move the whole tab/section around. Each section was denoted by a pagebreak.

It was awesome. It made flipping through sections, color coding and marking which were finished easy. Then I could have other sections that where just for notes, crits, maps, or random info. On the flip side, it was really difficult to convert any Lotus file over to Word, or vice versa. They just really didn’t like each other. (It is actually how I got into the habit of saving everything as RTF. Almost any program/computer is able to read RTF.)

Scrivener takes this basic premise and goes much farther. Its organized better. You can open two tabs at once and compare them. Easier to use. Intuitive. And then there is the COMPILE button. Scrivener will compile all of your sections into one file, any file you want. Doc? Mobi? Ebook? Sure… anything.

Best part? 30 (non-consecutive) day free trial (So go try it right now!). Tutorial Videos. And only $40 to keep it. Cheaper then anything else I know of, and far more useful.

After using it just for the 30 uses I realized just why so many people suggest it. So I use it.

Side note: There will soon be a “Scrivener for Dummies” book out soon. Here is an interview with the author.