My Books, Publish, Writing

Can’t see the end from here

Nearly half the month of January has passed, but for me it’s mostly done so in a dull blur. On New Year’s Eve, I started getting sick, but we still had a houseful of visiting family and our biggest dinner of the year ahead of me, so taking to bed was not an option. I muddled through. Two of my sons were sick too. One was leaving on vacation the next day, the other flying home in a few days. Fun times in the Lewis household. Now, tons of medication and boxes of tissues later, it’s time for me to get back to work.

year_roadTraditionally, in the beginning of a new year, we assess the past year. So how well did I reach last year’s writing goals? Well, I declared 2014 to be a year of writing, not publishing, and so it was. Yet I didn’t end up exactly where I hoped I would.

This time last year, in the midst of working on my third women’s fiction novel and revising a paranormal, I started a writing experiment. I decided to write a romantic comedy—a novella, I thought. So I set aside the revision and alternated work on the novel and novella.

But then I got so invested in the romantic comedy, that I set aside the novel and replaced it with revising the paranormal. Luckily, my deadlines are my own making.

As usual, after getting a little feedback on the first draft of the romantic comedy, I realized it was far from done. In revision, it grew and grew to novel length. And after getting a little feedback on the paranormal, I realized it had a few glitches to work out. Work on my poor women’s fiction novel had completely stalled.

I’d hoped to have at least one novel ready to publish this month. I have none. If I’d focused on one of the three projects exclusively, most likely I’d be gearing up for a new release right now. But my jumping-bean brain didn’t cooperate.

Still, I do expect to see both the romantic comedy and the paranormal published in the next few months. I also expect to finish the first draft of the women’s fiction and take it through editing, feedback, and revision this year. Can I have it ready to publish by the end of 2015? I hope so, but who can say?

I’m looking forward, but I can’t see the end of the road I’m on for 2015. All I know is that it’s going to be an adventure. Here we go …

Linda

Novel, Publish, Writing

Titles and covers and blurbs, oh my!

I did not intend to blog only once last month. September just disappeared while I was busy writing. If you’re a self-publisher trying to do it all yourself, like me, maybe you’ll relate to my current predicament. Actually, even if you have a team who decides on the title, cover, and back cover copy for your books, you might sympathize—and feel fortunate.

unkbookEven though I planned for my romantic comedy to be a shorter novel than my serious women’s fiction, the first draft missed the goal by a good bit. No surprise really. I write lean, so my first drafts always fall short of the word count goal. Still, I worried I wouldn’t be able to add enough in revision. Now, I’m no longer concerned.

A successful and busy writer friend graciously offered her time to read my first draft and make some excellent suggestions. Those comments inspired me to add over 5,000 words so far. By the time I finish the first revision, I expect the word count to grow a bit more.  So, that’s all good.

Unfortunately, I still don’t have a title. The scary thing is, when I think about titles, my mind goes blank. At this stage of writing my first two novels, I’d started compiling a list of possible titles, most of them terrible, still I had something. This time I have nothing except the working title, and even though this is a rom-com, I think the working title is too cutesy.

I’m getting impatient because I want to start working on the cover, and the title is an important factor in the design. Other than knowing the cover needs to announce the book as a fun read, I have no image visualized. I fall asleep every night hoping my subconscious will allow me to see the perfect cover in a dream—and let me retain it when I wake.

Also, I need to start work on the back cover blurb. Oh, joy! I suck at writing those. I’m still not satisfied with the blurbs for my first two novels. You’d think that since I wrote the books, describing them would be a cinch. Not so, for me. It doesn’t help knowing I’ll have to do this all for two more books in the next few months.

Dang. Where’s a good title, cover, and blurb fairy when you need one?

 

Linda

My Books, Publish, Writing

Kindle Unlimited and Other News

If you haven’t heard, Amazon has started Kindle Unlimited, a new ebook subscription service that some are dubbing “Netflix for books.” Right now, they’re offering a free 30-day trial. I’m anxious to see how this works out for authors whose books are part of this new service. Since my books are enrolled in Kindle Select, they’re automatically available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. So if you haven’t read The Brevity of Roses and the sequel An Illusion of Trust, take advantage of the free trial and download them now.

The Brevity of Roses: A man discovers himself through the two women he loves.    AIT_welcome_14

And speaking of those books …

You know those times when you think a task will be simple and quick to accomplish? Yeah, I don’t usually have those. It seems I operate under a different rule—Murphy’s Law maybe? About ten days ago, I got this bright idea to update the interior files for my published books. I wanted to update the cover designer’s name in one book and correct a typo and a punctuation error. No big deal … except.

Except that I can’t take the html that Word creates and upload it directly to KDP or even convert it as is to mobi or epub because I like to use my own CSS style sheet, which has to be fiddled with for each book. Except that I chose a new program to convert my customized html to epub, and I had to learn how to use it first. Except that I couldn’t get the table of contents to work the way I wanted in either ebook. Except that, after conversion, I decided to substitute a different scene break “ornament” in the ebook version of one book. Except that … nah, I’ll spare you the rest. Eventually, I completed the task.

Now that I’ve updated already published novels, it’s time to get back to work on the ones I’m writing now. I had hoped to have the first draft of my romantic comedy completed by the end of this month, but that would take a miracle to accomplish. This month has been more family-focused than usual. I don’t know about you, but I’m at my most productive when I have long stretches of time to settle into writing mode and then keep the story simmering on the back burner during breaks. My usual daily life supports that, but when my routine changes every few days, as it has this month, my creative side retreats.

And since we’re playing hoteliers to three dogs (plus our Maggie) this weekend, I doubt I’ll get much writing done, but for the last few days of July and on into August, I’ll be playing catch up. I believe I said in January that I wouldn’t publish anything this year, but that may not be the case. I might be ready to publish one book before the end of 2014 and then another (or two) in 2015. Maybe I’ll publish some short stories, too. It’s time for me to make a louder noise in this publishing game.

I hope your July has run smoother than mine.

Linda

Critique, Feedback, Publish, Writing

Mélange à trois … encore!

Good things come in threes, right? Well, today I’m sharing three little good things in this short post because I’ve started about five other posts since I published the last one and abandoned them all for one reason or another. By the way, if you misread the title* of this post you’re going to be disappointed. 😉

*The encore appears in the title because I used this silly bit of titillation once before.

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troisScrivener Update:  Recently, I blogged about my first week’s experience with using Scrivener to write and organize all the files associated with a novel. I still love it. I now have projects set up for three novels. It makes me laugh to remember that I didn’t care for the program the first time I tried it. And I expect I’ll be even more pleased with it after I learn all the ins and outs.

Download the free trial, for Mac or Windows, and try it for 30 days!

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Book Covers:  My books are printed by Createspace and, at the time they were published, a glossy cover was my only choice. Now, Createspace offers matte finish as an option. Since, in my opinion, glossy covers are more appropriate for non-fiction or children’s books, I switched to matte and ordered copies for myself. They arrived this past Saturday, and I’m very pleased. For the first time the colors are accurate.

I was never happy with the printed cover of The Brevity of Roses because it had a yellow tint, edging the pink letters of the title toward salmon. Apparently, that was caused by the glossy film overlay because the title appears in a true pink with the matte finish.

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Alpha, beta, critique:  Actually, the correct order is critique, alpha, beta, but it sounds better in A-B-C order. I’m talking about stages of feedback on your writing. One of the reasons I joined Women’s Fiction Writers Association was to find critique partners who write what I write. My first attempt didn’t work out. Of course, since the novel I was working on at that time is now waiting in line and the one I’m currently working on is not women’s fiction, I guess that failed attempt doesn’t matter.

So, again, I’m working without in-progress critique, which means the first person who reads “Forever” will be my alpha reader. I think I have one lined up—she’s a very busy lady, so her availability probably depends on when I have an alpha-ready draft completed. After the alpha edit, I’ll call for betas. But first, I’m writing, writing, writing.

Question of the day: Do you seek A-B-C feedback on your work?

Linda

Novel, Publish, Writing

Why I Don’t Want to Be a Professional Writer

Earlier this month I blogged that “I need to focus on what I CAN do, who I CAN be, and … that means I must STOP comparing myself to other writers.” Today I’m going to expand on that. For a while now, I’ve wondered why I’ve been so frustrated and discouraged since I published my first novel. I finally realized the reason: I’d lost the enjoyment of writing because I didn’t have a clear picture of myself as a writer.

whoamI.jpgWhen I first started blogging, I found the blogs of several other writers who hoped to be published one day. I followed their links to literary agents’ blogs and learned about querying. I set my sights on getting an agent because I believed that was the only way to get published. Later, I started following bloggers who were self-publishing. And when circumstances in my life changed, I decided to stop querying agents and publish my own book. But I was still reading the blogs of these successful self-publishers who were apparently selling hundreds of books a month, so I became dissatisfied with my trickle of sales and searched for tips on how to rocket my books to the top of the Amazon charts.

I wasn’t long before I realized it took more than writing well to have a book in the top 10—or even the top 100. I tried many things before I accepted I didn’t have the resources (money and influence) necessary to compete as a self-publisher. As for the advice to write, edit, revise, and publish three or more books a year? Why sure. You want me to bring peace to the Middle East too?  Two and a half years of trying to do the impossible left me frustrated, angry, jealous, self-pitying—a whole bucketful of stinking mess.

So last fall I returned to my first plan. I’d have to get an agent, who could sell my books to a big NY publisher who did have all the resources. I set off to write another book with the goal of dazzling an agent and editor. At times, I heard that still, small voice of reason, but I pushed it away.

That voice kept trying to tell me to look at the other side. To pay attention when I stood in Barnes & Noble watching a friend give a presentation at her first book signing and knew I’d faint dead away if I had to do that. To pay attention when I saw writer friends embark on blog tours, doing interviews and guest posts every day for weeks and felt my heart pound at the very idea. To pay attention when I got stressed out just thinking about having to meet, Skype, or even have a phone conversation with an agent or editor. To pay attention when my writer friends worried about meeting deadlines for their 3-book deals and I knew that my “Muse” would shut down under that pressure.

Finally I listened. I gave up the idea of being traditionally published. And then I hit rock bottom. I felt like a failure. I quit writing. For a month.

That’s all I could stand before my fingers itched to get back to the keyboard. I kept hearing lines of dialogue. I kept envisioning scenes. I had characters waiting to finish telling their stories. I started writing again, but I didn’t know why I bothered. Then I came across this post by Anne R. Allen. She defined me as a hobbyist writer. But then I read this response by Jami Gold and I liked her term better—an artist-author. Both women pointed out that being a hobbyist/artist-author rather than a professional author doesn’t mean my writing is necessarily of lesser quality. Jami said:

In fact, what Anne is talking about are the two paths for authors who do care about quality. The major difference instead is whether we have a business mindset …

I work as hard and edit and revise as earnestly as the professional author. I just don’t have a business bone in my body. I’ve stressed myself into illness trying to become something I’m not suited for. Enough of that. Sure I’d like to make more money doing what I love. But if I quit focusing on that goal and spend more time writing, maybe I will. No one knows the future.

But I know who I am now. I’m a woman who loves to write stories and who loves to study the craft of writing so she can write even better stories to share. That’s what I’ll be doing the rest of this year. And then I’ll publish those books and, judging from past experience, some people will buy and read them and some of those will say good things about my writing and I’ll be a happy artist-author. Being an artist-author sounds like a great gig, doesn’t it?

Tell me: Do you see yourself as an artist-author or a professional-author?

Read Anne R. Allen’s definitions.

Read Jami Gold’s definitions.