The Review Process

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Building Your Story from Scratch

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Hi there folks, today I’m back with a post about building your story and how to work out the details of your story before you actually begin writing that. I’m going to list several points and hopefully they’re helpful for you.

So, let’s get started…
 
1. Make a Plan!
So as tempting as it can be, you should not just start writing your story without any notes or an idea of where you’re going with it. Write a basic plan of the plot points and how the story should move forward. This is useful because it keeps a track of all your ideas and it can be revised through the writing process.
 
2. Establish the Basic Rules!
Any universe you write will have unique rules, no matter how big or small. Ultimately you’re going to need to know all the limitations of them and to stay within them. Set these out early so you can stay true to your original idea.
 
3. Research the Genre!
So it helps greatly if you know what popular and overused tropes exist in your universe (example: quaint farm boy saves the world/universe. As happened in Eragon, The Hobbit, etc.), because people buy certain types of stories, but also get bored very quickly with the same thing. And as well as that, each genre includes different themes entirely. While in fantasy characters wouldn’t be found far from a source of magic or a blacksmiths town, in romance you’d expect coffee shops and the theatre. While this sounds simple, in practice it actually becomes a lot more difficult, the more work and detail you attempt to add. So research, you’ll be better off for it.
 
4. Write a Draft!
A brief outline written in the form of a story with the correct plot points will help you to realise what parts of your story don’t fit or need changing. As well as this it gives you something to follow while you write your story fully and will shape your idea of characters and locations far better. Do take into account that by a ‘brief outline’ I mean anywhere from 15,000 – 30,000 words. It should resemble a novel but not be nearly coherent enough to release alone. It does make all the difference.

5. Do Not Pre-Edit!
Finally, you should pay great attention to what you’re writing and annotate what needs fixing. But don’t fix it as you go. By the time you’ve finished your story you’ll find plenty of things throughout that need changing and often they will affect other things earlier or later in the story. You begin to lose track if you try to edit from the middle onwards. Definitely, don’t do the editing until after you’ve finished. The bonus to this is you can do one run through for the edit before handing it off to beta readers, as opposed to editing different sections over and over again until everything is coherent. And chances are, working that way, things won’t be coherent.
 
Hopefully, this has helped you, and I appreciate your time at my website. They’ll be another post this time next week with a similar theme, so come back then if you found this helpful. Have a great week folks.

 

Myra has landed

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I received two boxes from Ingram this week, 50 pristine copies of Myra have arrived. I’ve been busy sending out pre-orders, but I still have a few copies left if anyone’s interested.

The cost is £7 including U.K. postage, you can buy with this link,

 

I’ve also been delivering stock, here’s the view in one of the places where my work is available, the Funky Aardvark in Teignmouth after I had re-stocked the display.

 

 

and better still, I met up with the amazing Vicki-Lea Boulter, the genius behind the cover art. Tea was consumed and new projects discussed.

And the final piece of news, the official launch will be on March 15th at East Town Cafe in Crediton. See the event on Facebook. I will be there from 10 am until 2 pm and will have all my novels available at a special price. There might also be a short story for you. Andorra Pett may put in an appearance as well.

3 Tips for a Productive Writing Space

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Hello everyone and welcome back to another writing article. This article is simultaneously an attempt at some SEO (search engine optimisation for those that don’t know), and a chance for me to share some of my favourite places to write.
 
Number One: For my first writing nook I am going to recommend a lack of something, rather than something you might include. The internet is one of the more useful tools in a writer’s life, but it is also one of the biggest obstacles to a finished first draft. For your writing room, I might suggest a place without the internet which, I can imagine, is a challenging space to find. I have had people suggest to me that sitting at an actual computer at a desk can help, especially if you unplug it from the internet first and leave your phone outside. Writing is difficult no matter what people say and it is always tempting to browse Facebook in place of writing because browsing is so much easier. Cut yourself off from temptation and it will be easier (not easy) to turn your mind towards the act of putting pen to paper, fingers to keys.
 
Number Two: My second suggestion is again, not a physical place so much as it is a time. We all have very different opinions on what is a good time of day. I like to consider myself a morning person, whereas I know more than a few night owls who would strongly disagree with my opinions. You know better than anyone what is a good time of the day for you. It could be that moment in the morning before the rest of the house is awake, it could be after your first cup of coffee (whenever that might be), or it could even be in the middle of the night when the world is quiet around you. My point is that you know what time is best for you, so choose that time to write in. I find myself very happy when I reach the end of the morning and find my writing already done, it will make that time of day feel that much more positive when it comes to writing.
 
Number Three: My final suggestion for a productive writing space would be choosing where to place yourself. Do you like to be squirrelled away in a nook out of sight of the world, or do you like to be surrounded by open space? I find no small amount of joy writing at a desk, it just seems right, especially in the morning with the sunlight outside (clouds optional). Perhaps an office surrounded by bookshelves with all of your favourite books is a suitable inspiring locale for your work, either way, make it your own space. In fact, that is probably my best suggestion right now, make sure wherever you right is your own space, keep out outside influence as best you can and have your own distraction free zone.
 
That’s it for today, but I will be back next week with another writing article. Last month went so well for my writing that I am feeling quite inspired and am already looking for new projects to sink my teeth into.

An Authors Persona

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Hi everybody, sorry the post is a bit late, a case of life getting in the way.

I’m back with a post regarding your public appearance as an author, primarily concerning your online profiles. I’m going to give you my top three tips on how to be as professional as you can be when marketing online.

 

1. So firstly, as tempting as it might be, try not to have too many powerful opinions. Now, obviously there will be things you feel strongly about and causes you will offer your support to, but that doesn’t mean that at the next election or over an event weekend you should make all your opinions publicly clear. It can alienate readers and convince people that you aren’t worth listening to, or can have people citing you as a source for something you may not know enough about to properly talk about. When writing stories and self-publishing a hugely important thing to do is to make sure that your audience doesn’t feel like you’re coming from a place that they can’t understand.

 

2. Now, a lot of people make this mistake but you shouldn’t put yourself on a pedestal. By this I don’t mean you shouldn’t have confidence – you totally should. Your work is awesome and letting people know is the only way they’ll ever find that out. That said, however, lots of black and white pictures of yourself, combined with a tendency to ignore your audiences contribution on your social media and a too flippant attitude can quickly make you appear pretty cold-hearted. Sure, it might be a lot of work to keep up conversations with people all the time, but if you want to sell your books to people you’ll have to do it, so you might as well find a way to enjoy doing it.

 

3. Finally, most importantly, you should always remember what makes you an author (Hint: It’s the readers). If you’re going to spend a lot of time building an online persona, make sure to take the time for individuals here and there and to offer fun alternative ways your audience can get more involved. One example of this is “Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café”, a book I am responsible for, and as a part of putting it together, I offered my readers the opportunity to be beta readers for me. Naturally, people enjoyed the opportunity to get involved and be a part of the pre-release process and an even better part of the deal was that I got great feedback on my work, early. Getting people involved was a win-win.

 

So don’t even feel like your online profile isn’t hip enough. You’ll connect with people best by being yourself, and by finding points of interest between your readers and yourself.

Hopefully, that will help you, and I appreciate you coming here to read again.

Have a great day, and we’ll see you here again soon

Pre-Order

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Great news, Myra is now available to pre-order in eBook format from Amazon.

Just go to this link (it works worldwide) to reserve your copy, it will be delivered to your device on Feb 15th. The eBook price has been set at around £2.99 or $3.99 and equivalent for other markets, depending on exchange rates.

I’m still working on the paperback, I have ordered a proof copy, as long as that’s OK I will make it available, stand by for news of that. Its price will be £7.99 or $9.99.

Here is the full cover, I think you’ll agree it’s impressive!

 

Myra is also available from these links,

BARNES AND NOBLE (Nook)

KOBO

 

Networking the Author Way

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Hello again and welcome back to another writing article where, this week, I will focus on some tips for networking between authors. These are not tips that will help you sell books to your audience, not on their own, but they are useful for building a network of authors in the same position as you, authors who can empathise with you better than anyone else and offer you tips that they have found that work. Let’s begin.
 
The first thing I would always recommend for authors is reviewing the work of other authors because this can be a great way to build a connection. Most authors love the idea of having their work reviewed, and are often very happy to send out a free copy for you to review, which means this costs nothing but time. In return for this, you will have insight into another author’s work, which might give you ideas on how to improve your work, you will have read an interesting new novel in one of your favourite genres, and you now have a connection between yourself and that author. Once the review is complete keep in touch, offer them your review services in the future, maybe ask if they can review something of yours, the important thing is to keep that connection fresh. Authors are the most likely people, except perhaps publishers, to learn something new and useful about the publishing industry, so being friends with a group of them can be very helpful indeed.
 
The next place I would consider networking is on Facebook/Twitter/everything else, where it is quite easy to have conversations. If you have connected with an author on any of these platforms then send them a quick message, try and strike up a conversation. The best part is that, like email, these conversations can be added to whenever is convenient, so if you’re busy you can just respond later. The best times are when you are both active and responding because then you get an excellent flow of ideas between both sides. One of the best people to run ideas by when you’re writing a novel is another writer because they are probably doing exactly the same thing and have that knack for writing that lets them see ideas where there should be none. Also, let’s face it, it’s nice to be friends with people who know exactly how difficult your job can be sometimes, and can sympathise when you are struggling.
 
Now, for a less informal situation, I would recommend being part of a few forums, on sites such as Goodreads, NaNoWriMo, and others. This is less for networking with authors and more about networking with your potential fan-base. Go onto most reading sites and if there isn’t already a thread dedicated to, what you would like to see in a genre (and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t), then start that thread and watch readers flock to it to tell you what they would like to see included. Don’t just read the conversation either, but make sure you get stuck in, give your own opinions back and before you know it you have a whole host of ideas for improving your novel, and easy ways to please your audience which will hopefully lead to more readers.
 
That’s it for this week, everyone, I’m grateful if you took the time to read. I will be back next week with another article for you to read, and if you want a chance to get involved in beta reading I am always looking for more readers. Until then, send that message.
 

Tips for Writing a Distinguished Novel

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So today folks I’m gonna be talking about how to make your novel stand out while maintaining a high standard of quality. I’ve got four great tips for you so hopefully this will help when writing your next novel.
1. Generally writers know enough to put in senses beyond just sight and sound. It’s always great to read about a character who notices the hot, pungent stench rising from the iron-wrought furnace that lingers over factory after a full day burning, or the weightlessness of a new silk shirt on his shoulders.
Publishers love all five senses, but they want and expect more. They want physical influence that deepens not just your setting, but your characterizations.
Here’s the key: The best authors use body language in their narratives. It must go by so smoothly it’s almost unnoticed. Yet it absolutely gives texture and depth to your work. When it’s missing, fiction feels flat.
Begin by reading up on body language. You’ll find that two things are at the root of all of it: anxiety (or lack thereof) and hidden desires. Dwell inside your characters and sense how they feel in any given situation (and why!).
2. People behave rationally only sometimes; the rest of the time we take stupid risks and do other things we can’t explain.
Publishers know this well, but because they don’t want readers to have to work hard to believe a premise or a plot they will insist on believability. And when they do, frequently their objections have to do with a character’s motivation. The trouble is, if you bow to this and have your characters behave totally rationally at all times, you’ll write boring, stale fiction.
Here’s the key: Human weirdness follows patterns we can all relate to (or at least understand).
One of the biggest is that love—or sex, at least—makes people irrational. We throw over the picture-perfect millionaire for the rough-around-the-edges dirt biker with debt; we lie to our faithful wife on the phone while meeting the secretary in a motel. Which goes to show that if you incorporate a strong enough motivating factor—even an irrational one—you can easily establish a plausible reason for erratic actions on the part of your characters. And those characters are far more motivating to read about than those who always behave rationally.
3. Publishers don’t look for authors who put restraints on their work for the sake of delicacy. Here’s the key to avoiding that: Not-pretty has two meanings here: a) topics that are not attractive, like racism or incest, and b) the way you write.
Most people shy away from darkness or at least keep it far in the background, but as an author you must be willing to dwell there, see it truly and explore it before you represent it.
I advise going back to your childhood years—the primal times before we really knew right from wrong, and before we were strong enough to defend ourselves from evil. Try to look through the eyes of the impressionable, innocent eyes that cast everybody in the same light until you were given a reason to view them as scary or different.
4. Finally, booksellers ran surveys that showed authors core customers to be well educated and fairly well to do. This wasn’t odd: Educated people tend to like books, and their income tends to enable them to buy books.
Still, some aspiring authors sometimes dumb down their work because they’re afraid of alienating the vast masses of potential customers they imagine they should be writing for. But you don’t need to—the average folks are smarter than you may think.
Here’s the key: Don’t underestimate your readers. If they like to read the sorts of books you like to write, they’re right up there with your core demographic. And dumbing down your work can be doubly disastrous, because if you do, publishers will not be able to relate to it.

So hopefully some of my advice will help you to grow as a writer and will give you things to focus on with your next draft. I look forward to meeting the people influenced by my site and thank you again for reading.

Critical Mass

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Critical mass is commonly defined as the amount of fissile material needed to sustain nuclear fission. It’s an interesting concept and one which doesn’t have to be reserved for that alone.

It could also refer to the point in any situation where something acquires enough momentum of its own to become unstoppable.

And I’m there again now.

Many years ago, back in the time when I struggled to write a letter home after a month spent crossing the Pacific ocean, I never got to that stage with any words put on paper. As long as I had written a bit I was happy, relieved to have done it. I used to get long interesting letters from my wife and family and wondered at the apparent ease that they were produced.

I watched as my wife would spend an hour or two writing to people, it seemed to flow, like a river and I asked her about how she did it. “I’m in the zone,” she said, “and it just comes out.” I never really understood at the time, ‘lucky her,’ I thought.

Fast forward….. I’m writing now, I don’t know where the inspiration came from, one day I just sat down and started typing.  And I found that as I did so, just occasionally the story would flow like I had seen in Yvonne’s letter writing sessions. It just kept coming and in the end, I had written things that I didn’t remember thinking or planning.

And that brings us back to critical mass.

In every idea there seems to be a certain mileage, sometimes I will write a thousand words, or two thousand and realise that the idea had nowhere else to go. It’s a Short Story or a Flash Fiction. That’s not to say that it isn’t any good, it just is what it is, complete and that’s fine.

Sometimes it just keeps going to twenty thousand words or so and then a strange thing happens. It develops a life of its own and nothing you can do stops it as it carries on. You think it’s done and another idea springs up to extend the plot or amplify a chapter. It starts to write itself, all you have to do is keep pressing the keys. Before you know it you’ve passed another ten thousand words almost without expending any effort.

My present work is one of those stories.

That’s critical mass and it’s wonderful.

Beta Readers

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Hi everyone, today’s post is about beta readers and why they’re such an important part of writing and publishing.
A beta reader gives you feedback on your finished manuscript, so you can adjust it before you set it loose on the world and they pick out issues such as grammatical mistakes, plot holes and unreasonable character arcs.
I’ve heard a lot of people saying beta readers aren’t important but getting another opinion is one of the foundations of the book industry. Publishers have been doing the beta reader thing for years, they just don’t call it that.
Beta readers have a tough job really as they have to relay problems with clarity, consistency and pacing issues to the author while also helping you match your target audience to the book. Aside from all this, your beta readers will usually be the ones to define the genre of the book. For these reasons, you should never overlook a beta reader.
 
 So here are my tips for finding beta readers:
1. Find folks who are likely to be impartial in their feedback. Choosing your wife or best friend to be a beta reader will often result in inaccurate and overly positive responses. You need the truth. This is your masterpiece here.
2. Find people with tact, because while you want honest, constructive feedback, you don’t want a soul crushing review of your work.
3. Choose somebody who likes the genre but hasn’t read your book or seen the notes. It’s easier to pick something apart if you haven’t seen/heard about it 4000+ times
4. Choose somebody who understands the urgency of publishing and won’t forget that they’re meant to be beta reading your books until six months in.
5. Pick somebody who can accept a deadline for when you’d like the manuscript back (within a reasonable time period). The worst thing is being three months away from publishing and having beta readers who still can’t give you genuine feedback past chapter three.
6. Don’t expect beta readers to accurately clean all of the grammatical mistakes out of your work. Often they aren’t being paid and even so, it can be easy to miss things when you’re reading a book and focusing on other aspects. You should still pay for an editor.
7. Finally, don’t pick up beta readers who do it just for money (if you’re going to pay them). The best folks to be reading your work are the avid readers; people who love stories. A good example of these people would include other writers. Swapping work back and forth can help your foresight and knowledge grow.
 
Hopefully, some of my tips today have helped you in selecting your beta readers and have convinced you that it is important. A story should be polished before it becomes a book. For one example of that, you can download Ribbonworld HERE.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you here again soon!

 

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