What I’ve Learned

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The last of the edits came back from John Hudspith. I finished going through them and while I deeply admire and believe in my editor, there were some changes I’m still struggling with. He removed a rather visceral sentence I rather liked, got all up in my grill about a ‘frozen’ chicken and changed the ending just a bit. What to do?

I’m currently re-writing the first, oh ten or twelve chapters of LIGHTED WINDOWS because they are terrible. I didn’t know they were terrible until I learned what good work looks like. Now I have to weed out all my, gag, moments that don’t work and don’t move fast enough and so on. I am also working on not ending all my sentences with a preposition. It is my book for better or worse and I am the name on the cover so perhaps I will ignore some of the edits and maybe replace that wonderfully visceral ‘plop of gray matter’ just because I wrote it the way it happened.

But what I’ve learned most is no one, not even someone as wonderful and special as my editor, Dearest Johnny, can write your book. I agree with most of his corrections and up until this last bit I would have never argued. But now, I’m facing publication of this long overdue work and I sincerely want it to be my work, the way I saw it. There is, however, the matter of sales. This editor has about fifty indie authors, so his knowledge of what sells is deep and he made a wonderful change to the ending that I am using.

So, I’ve learned you never stop learning. There are hundreds of way to write any sentence and while they all may not be exactly right for any given story, it is the job of the writer to pick and choose among the many variations, the best way to say and not say what you want the reader to hear. Thank you, my Dearest John, for being an amazing person. You have made LIGHTED WINDOWS a book worth reading. I hope to continue learning with each book that follows.Lighted Windows2 (1)

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LIGHTED WINDOWS

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The time has finally come. The last of the chapters are now in the editor’s hands and I am facing the precipice of publishing. I have a cover; I need a back blurb, but I am terrified. Don’t get me wrong, I love to write and this is my first complete manuscript. I have paid for professional editing, poor John, had to endure my early attempts. It takes some effort to not only write a book but do it as well as you possibly can. With practice, I believe I have improved. John says I have but he is too kind to say anything less.

What shall I do? Throw my first-born on the slush pile of Amazon? Try for an agent, at my age? Put it aside and know I did my best, feels like another alternative. But the worst of it is that I must make a decision and doing nothing is also a decision. I may stall and look for Beta readers first. They tell me it is a necessary part of polishing a book.

I have been working on an author’s platform. It is a soul-sucking enterprise. I will tweet now and again. I am just starting on Instagram and I find it hard to comprehend. My Facebook page has stalled at 1586 likes and my LinkedIn profile has expanded but  there is another platform I’m having some doubts about. Social Media is the way of the world but I feel lost in the Forbidden Forest.

What would you do?

Manage Content

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My Kindle is full, holy crap, I did not know that could happen. How the heck do you fill a reading device?? I’d done a review for an author I’d met at a panel discussion and was trying to figure out why it hadn’t appeared on Amazon. So I checked and found that the device was full and would no long communicate with my WiFi. Who knew??

Now, I will admit to being one of those evil people that scans through all the book marketing emails I get, BookBub, Book Shout, and so on ad nauseam for interesting books that are free. Authors are the new targets for the internet vultures. Real Estate agents were their first targets and I have hung up on so many marketers trying to sell me “top ten on Google, Yahoo, Bing” and some just plain websites hoping to squeeze their living out of you. But, I digress as always, sorry darlings. I have been ‘one-clicking’ on a lot of free books without realizing I was filling my e-reader with stuff I would never read. I will say that I have also found several good authors this way and left reviews to that effect. Now the toll of what I have done has come due. I must either read the books or “delete from device”.

I have learned something very important along the way. When I don’t have space on my device, I don’t waste time scanning through emails looking for free books. (yes, the saying you get what you pay for does come to mind, now!) I have time to blog, more time to write more time to plan out my writing and more time to…well just about everything. I have not yet removed enough from my device to allow it to connect with my WiFi yet and that surprises me. I’ve deleted over twenty books. Now to be fair, some of what I have deleted are books I have read, start to finish. These were good books, and I did pay for several of them, but, well, I have to “manage content” now so unless the work is of a research nature or historical content, I’ve read it and won’t be reading it again. I am one of those poor folks that can’t read a book twice (most books there are exceptions). I have a memory (currently, it could change) that once I’ve read a book or seen a movie I generally don’t want to experience it again. I know how it ends. I remember it, so sadly, I have deleted some books that if I had not been stupid and downloaded every mildly interesting sounding free book I came across, some of those good books would still be with me.

Lesson learned!

New Year

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Well, it’s 2016 and everyone is wishing me a Happy New Year and good cheer and well, you get it. I do try to be pleasant and smile at the appropriate times. I have also tried to be upbeat about the whole thing but the problem with all that cheer and it’s a new year, new start, stuff is it just isn’t true. It’s just another day.

I see you cringing and hear the ‘oh, poor old dear’ thoughts in your head. I should I’ve had them and felt sorry for the ‘old’ folks, nothing left to look forward too, poor lambs. I will bet you even made a couple of resolutions. Haha got ya there didn’t I! Yes, I used to make resolutions too. There were times I wrote them down with numbers and even, forgive me, dates on which I shall have completed this particular improvement. All that was back when I was a disgusting size six without a wrinkle or a care.

Now in case you were possibly feeling slightly sorry for me, stop. I drank the champagne, Perrier Jouet no less. (I admit to being unable to make an um-lout over the ‘e’ but you get the idea) I have done enough damage to my liver and poor brain with  cheaper drink but I have decided if I’m going to do something ‘bad’, hell, do it with the good stuff. I do actually have stuff to look forward to and resolutions of sorts. There are things I must handle this year because 2017 is a watershed year. I will explain that in a later post.

I think it is just that I have kind of partied out. I ‘ve done so many company parties, Air Force functions, military drunk-outs, and neighborhood beer fests (which are a lot more fun in Germany with really good beer) that I’ve become bored with the whole affair. You know how it goes. Fancy dress, high heels (hours on high heels should count as karma points, seriously) maybe even professionally done hair and loads of make-up so that I can stand around drinking and ‘socializing’ with the right folk. It was required at times and strongly suggested at others. I did enjoy a few of them but many were very tense or worse left me so hung over I was worshipping at the porcelain altar. Yes, good times! gag

So, I am now Scrouge wishing no further greetings of Happy New Year. I am happy because I made it to the new year and sad because there are those that did not and should have. What is that line from an old Kate Bush song about making a deal with God to change places with someone? She was way to young to realize how much we all wish we could make the deal, once in a while. I am fully into 2016 or any other year I make it through and that is happy enough for me.

NaNoWriMo’s End

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It is the thirtieth of November and the end of NaNoWriMo. I decided I would challenge myself to finish MIND MATTERS in the month of November as part of that group. Each day I would track my word count so that each evening I could record my progress on the website. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

To be fair, I did learn quite a bit from the NaNoWriMo challenge. I learned I am not able to force my writing. I write what is flowing at the time and no matter how I try if I force myself to continue when I’ve reached my end I write crap. They tell us on the website not to edit, it is a form of procrastination.  This is a challenge to reach fifty thousand words in a month. That may sound off-putting, but my first novel totaled 103,459 words before my professional editor, the wonderful and kind, John Hudspith, removed supercilious fluff and repetition. We are not quite done with LIGHTED WINDOWS my first novel, but I can tell you the word count is in the mid-90s. Yes, I am most repetitious.  🙂

I did manage to reach forty thousand words in MIND MATTERS by the end of November and while it may seem I gave up too soon, I think I also learned that trying to hit a word count causes me to dither. Now, I can dither without a deadline as my one hundred thousand word first book will attest, but when merely reaching a required number of words per day is the aim, I tend to “over-egg it” as Mr. Hudspith would say. Let’s face it I was in sales and I can keep talking until you are blue in the face and will say yes to just about anything just to get me to shut the hell up! My mother was Irish and while she disliked me in general, she did give me the gift of gab. But just because I can write lots of words does not mean the words are worth reading.

The final lesson I took for NaNoWriMo, well, maybe one of the last lessons, is that word count is all well and good, especially if you are getting paid per word, but quality must not suffer on the altar of numbers. I would write some days even when the story seemed to be drifting. I used to focus on a page count. I felt five or more pages a day was a good target. I was shocked and saddened to find five pages is about eleven hundred words. Wow, just a little over a thousand! And I used to think I was really churning it out. So the lesson here is humility. While I can write lots of words, much of what I write is of no consequence. If I cannot write from the heart, I simply can’t write worth a damn.

Thank you for reading my drivel, kind and gentle friends. Please pardon the profanity. As you can tell, I took this all very hard, well hard-ish  :>

Love Light Laughter and darlings I wish you Chocolate!

 

 

 

 

On Writing and NaNoWriMo

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I decided I would join the National Novel Writing Month challenge and committed to finishing my second novel, MIND MATTERS in the month of November. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m quite good at procrastination and forcing myself to finish this work should forestall my usual dithering.

Today being Friday the 13th seems like a good time to face my mistakes, well, some of them anyway. The list is long, so I’ll just admit I’m not progressing well on my writing challenge. What was I thinking? Finish a book I was only on Chapter Twelve of in the space of one month??? Madness, sheer madness! I’m actually writing here to avoid the pages of my story. It’s not that I don’t know where to go with the story. I have it all mapped out in my head and up until now, it was flowing rather well. But now I have a deadline. Holy Crap! Why am I Blocked?? Why is a deadline so daunting?

If you have read this far you will note that this is all in my head, such a mess. I set myself a deadline and then choked. All the advice from authors is to write and write every day. Well, I’m not built that way. I write when the story forms the words in my head. Sounds totally crackers when you write it down, but some of my best work, according to my editor, John Hudspith, has been when I am lost in my own story. My characters become real to me and their journey is what I must record. I’m still reading my first book, working on clarity and that holy and sacred point of view elephant in the work.

Enough drivel! I admit I’m flawed. I can’t force the words onto the page. If I’m not with my characters, I can’t tell their story with the heart and soul they deserve. These novels are a collection of real people, some I’ve known and some I only wished I could have known. So I will stop now and get out of my own way. My first novel, LIGHTED WINDOWS is nearing final edit and I will be releasing it soon. My editor has many kind words for the work and sooner or later I must let it  go, just as I must embrace my new characters. They deserve my full attention. Their story is something that will flow if I can simply get out of the way.

Rain & NaNoWriMo

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Yes, I realize these two things don’t go together but it is that time of the year and I’ve made a commitment to finish one of my novels this month. Today being the first of November, I sat down to write and watch the rain. I love rain and here in parched Northern California it is a blessing beyond mere words.

Speaking of words, I did manage to advance MIND MATTERS, the novel I’m striving to finish this month, by about five pages. Some folks are going on word count but since my darling editor, John Hudspith, will cut a great deal of my ‘fluffy’ writing, I’m setting a goal of pages. It is an effort to move from scene to scene regardless of word count.

It may not have come up in national news, but Beverly Hills not only did nothing to save water, those privileged folks actually used over one hundred percent of their normal water usage. The State Water folks are fining them for the abuse. Somehow, I doubt Beverly Hills and the other wealthy offenders will care. It’s only money. Green lawns and golf courses are far more important.

I think we may have gotten at least half an inch of rain here in Folsom. I don’t think it will make Folsom pond back into Folsom Lake. I do think it will make leaving this state so very much easier. I now own a house in Kentucky and it is lovely to see all the water passing through my next and I hope, last state of residence.

The thing about writing is, you don’t need to be in any particular place. Jack Kerouac managed to become famous for not really belonging anyway in particular. While I love to travel, I’m a little picky about where I sleep each night. Don’t take that wrong because I have spent many wonderful nights in a tent, traveling in the U.S. and in Europe. I am, however, getting on in years and require a bed for the night or at least a comfy air mattress. 🙂

So now I have made my commitment public (4 whole people and yes, Zanna, I still love your red hair). I am going to stop now. The next five or six pages need some thought. Oh, a Thank You to Nancy Loderick for her kind grammar assist. Naturally, WordPress doesn’t have a grammar check or even the ability for someone to correct their brain fart. (pardon the language 🙂

Until next time, I bid thee Adieu, darling fans  xx