Holidays and writing and momming

I will be in and out during the holidays. I am polishing my manuscript for submission, selling my jewelry for the holidays and trying to do all those supermom things that go along with Christmas.

I will be checking in sporadically. I will have very important things to say about the power of red pens and local peer review groups. Please bear with me and in the mean time, check out some of my older posts.

Hope this season is not driving you crazy!

Taking my own advice

I have emphasized the importance of serious self editing since I started this blog. I have hit up various issues, pitfalls, and methods. I have outlined different ways to keep from getting discouraged.

But I am not taking my advice. I finished the first round of serious self edits a month ago on “The Silent Apocalypse” it was a huge accomplishment. It went out to beta readers. It went up on critique websites. I got feedback. I got what worked for people and what didn’t. Not all the crits were helpful but all of them together give me a pretty good look at what still needs work.

And I am putting it off.

A published author I spoke to recently said “It took me three whole weeks of working all day to edit my last work!”

Three weeks? That sounded like bliss to me. How did he get the first edits done and then collect all the outside reviews and then make all those changes in three weeks? At first, I was discouraged that other writers can do this task that takes me months in three weeks.

Then I realized he probably had his own editor who had already made the notes for him. He wasn’t waiting on twelve different people to get to his work. And it was his full time job. He wasn’t fitting it in after the kids went to sleep, working on his laptop next to his spouse while the game was on.

Someday writing will be my full time job. Someday my children will be in school and I will have a quiet space to work. Maybe I’ll have someone to clean my house too (a girl can dream).

I could wait for that time to crack down, to polish my work to publish, but I don’t want to.

No matter how discouraged I get with the time it takes me to edit, working on my writing, pursing my dream is not something I want to put on hold. And that means I need to stop making excuses. Stop letting the task of going back again and editing and rewriting AGAIN overwhelm me.

So its time to take my own advice. Edits aren’t personal. Edits are just part of the job. And with this round, maybe my manuscript will be ready.

Wish me luck!

What do you do to keep yourself motivated during the editing process?

Short Stories: What’s the trick?

I have novels upon novels on my hard drive in various stages of completion but one thing I am lacking is short stories. And you know what? That kinda sucks. Short stories are more marketable, easier to sell, great for establishing yourself as a fiction writer and much easier to edit. But I just can’t seem to nail down the most simple aspect of writing one, an idea.

If you asked me at this moment, i could fire off about five novel ideas for you. I have so many I can just give them away. But a short story idea… well if one comes around (which it rarely does) it’s either partially poached, horribly contrived or makes no sense. I can’t do it.

So, I really would like to know, how do you do it? How do you pare down an idea enough to make it 7,500 words or less? Or conceive of something that’s no so complicated to begin with? How do you convey something meaningful or interesting or funny or whatever in a short format? Tell me your secrets!

Indie Author Interview: Caroline Peckham

Indie Author Caroline Peckham is releasing her debut novel “Creeping Shadow”, the first in her series “The Rise of Isaac” on kindle, December 10th this year. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this imaginative and entertaining YA fantasy. Caroline was kind enough to answer some of my questions about indie publishing and what her path down that avenue was like.

What led you to indie publishing?
I decided to publish independently after submitting my first book to literary agents and subsequently not receiving representation. I knew I wFeatured imageas going to write this series no matter what so decided to go down the route of self-publishing. Amazon Kindle was a no-brainer for me as I myself buy all my ebooks through them. When I looked into their unlimited scheme I knew it was for me.

How many books have you published? Through what venues?
My first book, Creeping Shadow, is due to be published on December 10th 2015. I’ll be publishing through Amazon KDP and plan to have the second book in the series, Bleeding Snow, published in January or February 2016. The series will be five books in total and, depending on my experience with KDP, I currently plan to publish them all in this fashion. I’ll also be releasing a print version of the books through create space and can’t wait to have a solid copy of Creeping Shadow in my hands!

What are some tips you have for other writers?
I think the best thing I’ve learned is to write a first draft without stopping to look back over what you’ve already written. If I try to edit as I go then it slows down the process of getting the entire story down and I think it’s best to get that first draft done as quickly as possible then deal with the mistakes later. It’s also a good idea to not ask for feedback in these early stages or else their influence may change where you originally wanted the story to go.

What resources have helped you?
I’ve found WordPress and Goodreads the best resources as a writer. Blogging on WordPress has connected me with so many people that are as passionate about writing and reading as I am. Goodreads is brilliant for connecting with a community of readers that love reviewing and recommending books. It’s enabled me to have honest reviews on Creeping Shadow before its release date from those who have read ARCs. This will give it a platform to build on when it’s published which is invaluable as an indie author.

Tell me about your latest project:
I’m in the process of writing the following books to Creeping Shadow which is the first in The Rise of Isaac series. I’ve written book two and three which are currently in the editing stage and I’m focusing on this before writing book four. The series is a YA fantasy that follows the story of Oliver Knight as he sets out on a journey across seven worlds to save his sister from a lethal curse.

How has your work developed since you started?
When I first began writing I really had no idea about formatting, editing, blogging or even publishing. I was a complete newbie to all the processes! I have learned so much by taking each stage as it comes and spending the time to get feedback and advice from a range of people. It’s been a long road to get where I am today but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I can now write a draft of a book without making the millions of basic mistakes I used to and although my work always needs a lot of editing I have a stronger piece of work to start with which is due entirely to practice, learning and taking advice from the right people.

What does your editing process look like?
I start with a first draft of my book which has a beginning, middle and end but often has many gaps or holes in the story. I then go through it and fill in those gaps so a 70 or 80 thousand word first draft will usually end up around the 90 or 100 thousand word mark. Then the real editing begins! I’ll work over the second draft several times to fix any grammar and spelling then, when I’m generally happy with the quality of the writing, I’ll have it proofread by my sister (who also writes) and friends then ask for opinions on plot line and characters to get an idea of if the story flowed well and if there were things that didn’t make sense etc. After fixing these things I then get more feedback until I’m happy with the manuscript. At this stage, once I’ve read through it and not changed anything, I know it’s ready for review! It sounds simple but it can be a long process reading and rereading it over and over until it’s complete.

Tell us about your books for sale, include links please!
Book one of The Rise of Isaac series, Creeping Shadow, will be available to buy on Amazon from December 10th 2015. Here’s the blurb:

A man waits in Vale, a world void of humanity.

A mother vanishes, her disappearance concealed by the police.

A girl collapses, black magic invading her blood.

And a boy linked to them all must fight to save his family.

Earth is just one of seven worlds. Gateways divide the realms and those who pass through must earn keys, participating in challenges that will separate the fearful from the brave, the weak from the strong, and the witless from the cunning.

Sixteen year old Oliver Knight knows nothing of the other worlds or his family’s dark past. But when his adopted sister succumbs to a deadly curse the truth is revealed and he is plunged into an unknown land in a desperate bid to save her. However, a sinister enemy is on the rise and the danger they face at every turn throws those around them under suspicion. In order to survive, Oliver must figure out who to trust, who to believe and, ultimately, who to fear…

It is currently receiving honest reviews on Goodreads from people who have been given advanced reader copies. It has an average 4.5 stars and you can check out all the reviews on Creeping Shadow’s Goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26526373-creeping-shadow

If you’re interested in finding out about me and my writing you can check out my website at: http://www.carolinepeckham.com

I’d like to say a big thank you to Lindsey for the interview and wish her well on her fantastic blog!

Picking an idea for NaNoWriMo that will carry you through

In order to write 50,000 words in 30 days, you certainly need discipline and determination. A plan is nice too, but without passion and inspiration, there will be little joy in the challenge. Without joy, it’s very possible you will not be able to manufacture the motivation to see it through to the end.

There is lots of information out there about how to make your goal during NaNoWriMo. Keep to a schedule. Write a certain amount every day. Outline. Network. Just Do it! It’s all good advice, but in my humble opinion, the heart of the matter is the premise you decide to run with in the first place and picking one that can see you through to the end.

So what to look for in a story idea? Epic Themes? Heartwrenching love stories? Complex, flawed and dynamic characters? All these things are great in a story but in a story that needs to be completed in 30 days your winning premise should be three things.

Compelling to You.

Structurally Simple at Conception

Fully Formed

In order to create something that will keep you motivated to put in the work it needs to be finished in 30 days, it needs to have you excited. Since you are your own boss here, it’s up to you to push yourself to the end. So don’t pick a premise you think it marketable. Don’t pick something you think is easy. Find an idea that reallly gets under your skin, something you can’t wait to explore. Passion is the best motivator.

50k words is a short novel. 30 days is a short amount of time. When faced with a deadline like this you want to go back to the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). So, introduce main characters and set up the plot. Introduce the conflict. Throw a few crises in, climax that thing and bring it down again. Forgo the subplots, underlying themes, extensive backstories and complex world building for now. At it’s conception, to get it done, keep the structure simple. Later you can add all the depth and detail you want, and your novel will be better for it because instead of loping off a bunch of useless info you wrote when you weren’t sure where everything was going, you are intentionally enriching the story you know intimately.

Now lastly, the idea you go with should be formed in your brain. Whether you outline or not, you should have a clear idea about who the characters are, what the problem is, how it will escalate and how it will be resolved. At the very least, have your ending in mind. I cannot tell you how many awesome ideas I have just languishing because I don’t know how the story will end. They meander along, introducing this issue and that and never actually go anywhere near completion. Thats okay if you have years to figure it out, but if you want to complete the NaNoWriMo Challenge you need to know the end when you start and have a pretty good idea how you will get there. With the ending in sight you can drive full speed ahead toward it.

So, that is my little bit of Monday advice for you. Remember, the point is to get a first draft, not a perfect draft. Let yourself write what inspires you and best of luck with NaNoWriMo!