How was it for you?

I found a link on Pinterest today that seemed quite relevant to me at the moment.

It’s called Ten Questions to Ask a Friend Who Just Read Your Novel, and it’s a great set of questions to ask more casual readers, rather than those who maybe you are asking to proof your work for errors and things.

I really love the idea of using friends and family as the first line of readers before your book goes out for publishing. I know that is a big no-no in the writing business, but I think writers should use every resource they can get. Luckily, my family and best friend know how much I want to succeed in my career so they are very honest with me.

They don’t worry about hurting my fragile writer feelings, because they know in the end it will be worth it if it makes my books better! 😀

Whilst I’ve been doing my final read outs of my books, I’ve been trying to think up questions that I can ask at the end. When I print off my manuscripts to give to my readers, I always include a front sheet stating things I want them to look out for, and looking back on them I realise I ask them to look on a lot of editing and technical stuff. I make them look at it critically, which is exactly what I want and need, but I also need them to read my book as a reader. I need to know if they enjoyed the story and characters itself.

Examples of my lovely front sheets :)

Examples of my lovely front sheets 🙂

But when I went looking for suggestions on questions to ask readers, a lot of them were focused on the technical side of things, such as: Were there many typos? How was my grammar? Etc. Which is important I know, and those are the things I always ask, but the questions in the article I found were different; rather than technical questions, they were more focused on story and character, and that is after all the most important part, right?

After having all my edits back on the technical side and working for so long on editing grammar and punctuation it was nice to be reminded to focus on story. And although my technical ability needs to be great (which is important to me), I also need to remember to look at my story as a reader and not just a writer. When I read a book, especially one I’m really enjoying, things like adverbs and how many commas a sentence has doesn’t matter very much. What matters is the story and the characters.

The technical side of my writing can be as brilliant as it wants, great editing and formatting, but unless the characters are relatable and real, and the story is fun and read-able, then all that lovely editing will count for little 😀 So, I’m going to make even more use of my readers, and ask them these new sets of questions and anymore I can think of (if you guys have suggestions, I would be very grateful!).

Are there any questions you always ask your readers? Do you wrangle your family and friends into reading your books before publishing? 😀

Also, I have finally got a Tumblr account for any of those who want to follow and connect 🙂 – awriterslifeformeblog. It will be a writing focused blog, with updates on my books and writing, as well as inspiration and tips.


Progress Report

Publishing status:
> StolenFinal edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> The Queen’s JesterFinal edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> Third ManuscriptEditing, 2/3 copies back from readers. (Still to do: Final edits, cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

My plans! My beautiful plans…

How can it be so close to the end of April? When did that happen? 😀

As April is quickly dwindling away I realise I am probably not going to get my books published before the end of the month, but that’s ok. You got to go with the flow with writing, right? And I would rather wait until May and publish great, well-edited books rather than shove them out before they’re completely ready.

Even though they’re novellas, I want these books to be remembered for the quality of both writing and editing.

So, I’m going with the flow. (Hyperventilating slightly that I’m off schedule though, I really like being on schedule! :D).

Anyway, next week is my week of final read-outs. I will sit down with others and read through all 3 books aloud for a final-final edit. I have read and edited these books so many times I could probably do it by heart now!

So, today and the rest of the week I will be going back to editing Stolen and The Queen’s Jester thoroughly, yet again. I put them away for a good while so as I could come back to them with fresh eyes and wow!

It’s really weird picking up a book I wrote a while back and re-reading it now 😀 It’s fun, just odd.

I’ve learnt SO much since writing Stolen, from reading all of your blogs and tips, and looking into articles on making my writing better. It’s nice to come back to the first book I wrote and go over it again now with what I’ve learnt. I think it’s going to make a big difference, and that was part of the reason for publishing these 3 books at once at a later date, so as they are all released to a high standard and not rushed.

It feels like I wrote these two books so long ago, and it’s nice to return to them now and read over what I’ve written and achieved. I have a renewed excitement for getting my stories and characters out into the world and hoping that readers love them as much as I do 🙂

It’s also great to be able to take all my new knowledge on editing, writing, formatting and all the great tips I’ve gained and apply them to these books. They are really whipping up into shape now!

Also, as I have now almost finished doing everything on my third manuscript, I will be changing my progress report to update on my publishing status. I don’t know if you guys enjoy the progress report I do at the bottom of posts, I hope you do 😀 But it’s a great way for me to keep up with where I am and note down a record of it to look back on 🙂

Have you ever read back over older work and been excited about it? Do you enjoy re-reading books you’ve written? How is your progress for this month?

Progress Report

Publishing status:
> Stolen- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> The Queen’s Jester- Final edits. (Still to do: Cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).
> Third Manuscript- Editing, 2/3 copies back from readers. (Still to do: Final edits, cover, blurb, final read-out, formatting, marketing).

April E-Book Review: Book read. Review ready.

March Round up and Plan for April 2014

Wow, March is over? Where did that go?

Let’s have a look and see how March went:

– I posted every scheduled day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday).
– I joined the Romance Weekly blog hop.
– I started my third novella! Albeit a week late…
– Finished editing my second novella, The Queen’s Jester, and posted the first snippet of my writing on the blog.
– I had a reading frenzy (for me, anyways) and finished 4 books
.

It was a busy month, felt a bit frantic at times! Hopefully April will bring with it the real start of Spring 🙂

And speaking of April, I better try and set some goals for the month:

3rd April-
Finish first draft of third novella.

4th-6th- Edit manuscript and send to proof-readers.

7th-19th-
Research publishing on Amazon and other e-retailers/Produce covers for all 3 books/Write blurbs/Get an author page set up on Amazon, Goodreads, etc/Get advice on publishing.

18th-21st- Enjoy Easter 😀

22nd- 24th- Finish edits and format books.

30th April– April E-Book Review

End of April- PUBLISH MY BOOKS!

An exciting month, yes, this is the month I am actually going to publish my novellas… hopefully. If everything goes smoothly. Exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time!

I’m not sure on the exact date yet of release, but I will set one and let everyone know just in case anyone is interested!

Have you got any goals for April? Did you meet your goals for March? Do you think we will eventually get Spring?

Progress Report:

Word Count: 3416 (44,481 total word count).

Status of Third Manuscript: Writing first draft.

And it’s done… finally!

It is done!

I have finished the editing on my second novella!

Yay!

But now my March schedule is a week out, so I’m going to have to work hard and fast this month. But, that extra time editing did give me extra time for research and planning on my next novella, and I feel really ready to just dive in and get started.

So, as the editing is done and I can finally put my second novella away, I shall give it a little introduction (as calling it my second novella is getting tiring 😀 )

It is called, ‘The Queen’s Jester’, and is a fantasy, medieval-inspired romance. It came out at about 33,500 words and I think is one of my best stories so far 🙂 I even got a comment from my friend and proof-reader that said:

‘I really enjoyed my time with it, and had to keep rereading things because I’d get wrapped up in the story and forget to have my critical eyes on.’

I can’t express once again how much I found reading aloud such an incredible editing tool. You should really try it out, I cannot ever recommend it enough.

Today, I am starting on my third novella, and I am extremely excited! I have been wanting to get this story out for ages, and I’m about ready to explode to get it written 😀

I also realised that I haven’t actually ever posted anything of what I’ve been working on. So, here is an excerpt from, The Queen’s Jester. I hope you enjoy it, you guys are the first people to lay eyes on it other than my 3 readers, and I am kind of nervous! 😀

“What I want doesn‘t matter,” she turned her gaze away but he put his finger beneath her chin to turn her back to look at him.

“That is the only thing that matters.”

Marie could barely breathe at the weight of his words. “I must try with Warrick.”

“Why? He barely knows how to write his name let alone how to please a wife.” A half-smile played at his mouth.

“Because he is my husband.”

“He is but a boy.”

“He is king,” she said, reminding herself as well as him.

“And yet.” The smirk on his face widened. “He is not the one you came seeking,” he said. Marie’s breath quickened, she wanted to argue, to deny his words, but could not. She had followed the Jester down that darkened hallway, the one filled with shadows deep enough that she knew no one would see them, more than willingly. “What is it you desire from me, my queen?” His voice was laced heavily with seductive suggestion, the clarity of every word like the coolness of satin against her ears. The gentle heat of his breath caressed her skin and she could barely focus as he leaned closer.

“Nothing,” she finally whispered, biting her lip to hide the obvious lie in her tone.

“I don’t believe you,” he replied instantly and pressed himself firmly against her. Marie gasped at his closeness, every inch of her tingling and aching. His fingers slid down her arms and caged her wrists, pinning them to the cold stone wall behind. With agonisingly slow, silent movements, the Jester let his lips graze along her jaw and down her neck, never once truly pressing them against her skin. How it drove her mad! All she wanted was for him to push more, press harder, to feel how it would be to have his kisses trail over her skin.

He never did. Instead, he drew back from her, a satisfied expression smoothing his features at her reaction.

“Who are you?” Marie asked after regaining her composure and breath.

He pondered her question. “I am simply the king’s jester, or should I say, the queen’s jester,” he said in response, seeming to avoid truly answering the question.

How has your writing been going so far? Are you meeting your goals for this month?

Progress Report

Status of Second Manuscript: FINISHED!

March E-Book Review: Book Chosen.

Getting Ahead!

My first draft of my second novella is finished!

I’m really quite giddy with it at the moment. I finished 3 days ahead of schedule, which I was pretty proud about. Last night I sent my manuscript (edited by me many times, so hopefully it won’t be too bad!) to my proof-readers.

And now the waiting begins once again 😀

I have to say, I noticed a big difference between this novella and my first. I think my writing was a lot stronger in this one, I managed to take on board everything my proof-readers said last time and incorporate it into this one. Things like dialogue grammar, elongating my sentences, etc. It definitely is better for it.

The story itself I think is a little better, but that could be because I actually planned out this book, rather than just writing on the fly like I did with Stolen! 😀

The writing style is also quite a bit different in this one, and that’s what I wanted. It is a fantasy story, based in medieval-type times, so it needed to read differently. I think I achieved that. Also, it is more romance focused, heavily romance-focused in fact, where as Stolen has a sub-plot to it. This one also has a sub-plot, but it kind of merges into the love story, so as it feels like one plot with the romance, if that makes any sense at all!

It was quite a shock to see the difference between the two, but I’m thinking it’s a good thing that I’m improving. I’m learning all the time during this journey, and some things I know I will always do now. Planning out the story for example, that really helped so much!

I’m so excited though 😀 Before beginning this writing path, I never finished anything. I planned on writing books before but never finished them. Now I have finished two, and it feels like a real achievement. I have to remember this feeling when I start having self-doubts again. I tend to get a shot of low self-confidence during this time, so I got to keep this feeling with me 🙂

I guess now, while I’m waiting, I better go on and start planning my third!

How is your writing going? If you’ve written more than one book, did you see an improvement from one to the other? Do you ever get a hit of self-doubt?

Thank you, also to, Caffe Maggieato, for nominating me for the Liebster Award! I will be doing a post on this at the beginning of March. Thank you again, it made me smile all day 😀

Progress Report

Word Count: Final Total Word Count- 32,053.

Status of Second Manuscript: Sent to proof-readers.

February E-Book Review: Writing review.

An Honest Post about Honest Editing

I thought, seeing as this blog is to document my truthful journey to becoming a self-published author, I better write something about the editing of my first manuscript, however much I wish I didn’t have to admit the parts of my writing that are bad 😀

I finished editing Stolen on Monday morning, and I have put it away completely until April, and in all honesty I was totally ready to stop working on it by that point.

After completing the first draft of Stolen, I read it and edited it myself 3 times, catching spelling mistakes, grammar problems, etc. I thought I did a pretty good job.

It just goes to show how wrong I can be, and the real need for proof-readers!

Unfortunately, I cannot afford professional editors so I had to ask people I knew would be honest and who knew their stuff when it came to books. I asked 3 people: my mum, my sister and my best friend and (thankfully!) they all agreed. I chose these people because they are very literate, always a useful thing, but also because they vary greatly from one another:

– My mum reads an… interesting selection of books, though generally no romance, but she has read A LOT and knows her stuff.

– My sister reads romance, and is very, very good at seeing good romance in a story and what works.

– My best friend is a brilliant writer and started writing a novel of his own, he is also very good at grammar, very professional and American (this was surprisingly useful, as he picked up things that sounded slightly off for an American reader).

I had some great proof-readers.

So, I sent off my manuscript and waited… and waited… and waited. Oh my word! The waiting was painful! It wasn’t even that long, they all got it back to me very quickly. And they had been very honest (incredibly honest, I asked them not to worry about hurting my feelings and they didn’t! 😀 ) and very thorough. I admit, I had a major bout of low self-confidence after seeing some of the edits, but then after doing them I realised how much BETTER my manuscript was! It read smoother, it looked tidier, the whole thing was just lovelier 😀

I needed them to be that nit-picky, point out every flaw and not worry about hurting my feelings, because in the end it was seriously worth it!

Now, when I actually looked at the edits, they were all just mostly grammar mistakes (apparently, a weakness I need to work on!). I had only 1 typo out of the whole manuscript! Also, there was hardly anything I needed to change about the actual story itself, they understood it, enjoyed it and liked the characters. Not only that, but they were all still encouraging me to keep going with this career. I’m pretty sure if they thought Stolen was awful, they wouldn’t be quite so eager to keep encouraging me to try and make my living from writing! So why was I getting so down?

I am a perfectionist, I like things to be exactly right as soon as it pours from my fingers, but writing doesn’t work that way. Editing needs to be done, nobody is perfect and no one can produce a stunning first draft.

I did the edits, and Stolen was looking better than ever. Then I decided to take the advice that had been written in many articles and I sat down with my mum and sister again, and my mum read it out loud (a weird experience, it was like going back in time to my childhood when she‘d read to us but it was my story she was reading 😀 ). I have to say, I was surprised how useful it was to hear it read out loud. We picked up on a few last things that needed changing that no one had even noticed during the edits, but that was only because when reading it aloud it was obvious that I’d been repetitive, or maybe the sentence structure was odd.

I thoroughly recommend reading your manuscript aloud during editing, it really works.

So, to summarise this much-longer-than-I-planned-on post, editing is a necessary thing. Nobody’s first draft is stunning, and that is not a bad thing, it’s just how it is. Having people proofread my work showed me parts I need to work on (grammar and more comma-usage, who knew you had to use so many?) and helped me to see that my story and the body of my novella was actually pretty good.

Stolen is now mostly complete. In April I shall read it again, with fresh eyes I might be able to see any last bits that need changing. Until then, it is stored away, and am I seriously thankful for that!



Progress Report:

Word Count: 5441 words since Monday.

Status of Second Manuscript: Writing first draft.

February E-Book Review: 30% Read.

The Art of Waiting

I am not a patient person. I’ve tried to become better at waiting yet it just doesn’t work.

But after sending my manuscript copies off to my proof-readers it has been a case of having to be very patient. It is not necessarily the waiting to get back the edit recommendations, which is obviously nerve-racking, it has been the fact I can’t get on with my next novella.

During last week and this week I have begun to plan out my next novella (and a couple after that!), I even started writing a few scenes towards it. I was all ready to plough ahead with the next one whilst waiting for the proof-readers to get back to me. Then my best friend, as well as one of my proofreaders, (who has a blog you should check out, it’s very funny! Lost to the Aether) made an excellent point:

I shouldn’t start writing my next novella until I have finished editing my first manuscript.

He is right, of course. If I start writing my next novella I will be completely lost in writing it and then to have to come out of that world to edit my other story might be a bit disjointing and break my momentum. So, I stopped writing towards it.

But it has been so hard!

The idea of taking a break between books was also to give myself time away from writing for a while, to take the chance between books to have a calm down and do other things. Seeing as when I do start writing a book I generally do not stop! I go at it constantly, even waking up at moments during the night to jot down things I have thought of.

The break is not working out so well so far though, my head is still all about the writing 😀

So, even though I have done my plan for my next book, planned my characters and they are itching to get down onto the page, I know it is best to wait. My plan is to edit Stolen (my first novella) from what the proof-readers advise and then put it away for a couple of months. But I need to do the edit first before putting it away, whilst I am still in the mind-set of Stolen, its characters and that world.

Though, looking at it, I guess it is a good thing to be so excited and keen to write the next one. If I wasn’t raring to go on the next one, I don’t think I’d be very good looking at writing as a career!

I am in awe of those writers who can work on more than one story at once!

Do you write more than one book at once? Do you try to take a break between books? Is it hard for you to wait for the proof-readers to get back to you?

Progress Report:

Status of First Manuscript: 2/3 Copies back from proof-readers.

January E-Book Review: 100% Read, review written. Editing review.