Switch Up!

I just want to say a BIG thank you to all the lovely encouraging and supportive comments on my last post (I may not have replied to all, but I read them all and was so touched!). It was so nice to hear from other writers who feel the same. This community really is so incredibly supportive! 🙂

Today is the first day of just giving myself over to writing, I am doing this blog post on my lunch break! 😀 It has been nice though, it was lovely to start writing this morning and have no pressure to finish at a certain time so as I could begin social media, I actually think the quality of my writing improved for it!

Anyway, I had a nice plan of action in place for the book I’m working on at the moment.

It was my usual plan- Write the first draft, edit the next month, and then release. So release day would have been the end of November.

But, this book is different then normal as it’s the first book in a series; a series I have been thinking about writing for a good 2 years now.

As I began writing my first draft I knew I was going to need more time with it. More time with these characters I’ve been cultivating for years and more time to delve into the start of this series I’ve loved planning for so long!

So, I’ve had a change of plan. My plan now is to work on the first draft (still finish by the end of this month!) and then give myself two months for editing.

In November I am going to work on a short Christmas novella to release in December, then January and February I am giving over completely to re-writing and doing drafts of the current first book in my series.

I hope that makes sense 😀

I do have to say, this is part of the reason I love self-publishing. I have no set time or specific book I need to work on. If I want or need to change up the order I release books or write books, I can! That is really a huge plus for writing and publishing books on my own!

Have you guys ever changed your writing plans? Have you started one book and then begun another at the same time?

Progress Report:

Status of first manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 2232 (Total word count: 28,368).

Books read: 2/4.

End of October Indie Review: Reading.

Being a Writer= 10% writing and 90% everything else!

When I started this blog my main goal was to be honest, I wanted to record this journey and be truthful about how it was going and how I felt about it. This is one of those posts 😀

So, over the past few days I’ve been in a bit of a weird head space!

I love writing and I’m very lucky to be able to dedicate all of my time to it as my full time career.

But when I thought about it, I’m not dedicating my full time to it. I write for around 1.5-2 hours a day, five days a week and though that’s a lot more than most people get the chance to do, it’s still not enough for me.

Most of my workday is spent doing social media.

Now, I’ve gone on about my inability to make proper use of social media before 😀 I’m also not good at using it for marketing, etc.

I’d say I’ve not done bad in book sales, more than some indie authors, but I also have to say that not seeing a rise in sales throughout the year but just a steady stream, kind of put me in a bit of a funk.

Why was I spending so much time on creating my author platform etc, if it isn’t going to help with sales?

Now, my writing isn’t all about they money 😀 But I do want to make a living off of it and though I understand I am a new author, it can be incredibly disheartening to see indie authors put out one book and they get to number 1 without seeming to do much at all, and my books float in the sea with the rest.

It just got me thinking about if I am using my time wisely. If my hours on social media aren’t gaining me sales or getting my name out any further, should I be spending so long on it?

As you probably have heard me say many times before, I really don’t like marketing! Those who do it well are successful, but I don’t do it well, I barely do it at all. The thought of shoving my work in people’s faces constantly really drains me and social media is a part of that. Trying to get my name out there and my work recognised is emotionally exhausting because I’m just not that type of person.

Now that I have established myself with a blog and things, is it time to allow myself to take a step back and wait for my books to speak for me?

What I’m trying to say is, I miss writing.

I could write all day if I could 😀 And that’s exactly what I’m going to do for a while.

I have made the decision that for the rest of the month, I am going to take a bit of a back seat on the social media thing. I’ll have a few blog posts, but not too many I don’t expect. I will still read others blogs, because I always enjoy your guys posts and find some great tips and information! But I probably won’t comment as much as I normally do.

I think not commenting as much on others blogs is part of my hesitance to cut back on blogging and social media. I have made a great many blogging friends and am so incredibly grateful for their support, I like to show mine by commenting and sharing their posts.

The social media side of things is important, I know, it’s the only way to get my name out there, but I really need to just write for a while, to give my everything to the craft I love so much.

So, if I’m not commenting as much as usual, please don’t think I’m not reading, because I will be! I hope you guys understand 🙂

Have a brilliant weekend everyone, I hope it’s a good one!

The First Draft- It’s a love/hate thing.

One of my major flaws as a writer (and as a person) is my need to get everything perfect first time around.

You see how this could be a problem when it comes to writing? 😀 Considering the amount of drafts we have to do before we get something we’re pleased enough with to publish?

Writing a first draft can, at times, hurt me.

Staring at this horrible screen of text that isn’t perfect, that isn’t lovely, that sometimes doesn’t even make sense; it doesn’t do me any good!

But I have gotten better over this year since writing has become career. The first draft has to be written, no matter how I do it, it is the foundation of my book. If I don’t write, then I’m not doing my job! 😀

The way I like to look at a first draft is that it is the skeleton. It is the bones of my manuscript.

The second draft is the muscles.

The third is the skin.

And from then on extra drafts and changes are the clothing, jewelry, and make up that allow my manuscript to sparkle.

Still, it’s hard. Nowadays I write my first draft without looking back at it. I just write it and keep on going. I use simple, not very active words, such as ‘pushed’, ‘pulled’ ‘looked’, etc, I even have sections where I’ve written, ‘She’s angry- describe’. I just write whatever to get that first draft down, with notes to remind me when I go back to edit.

I can then go back and change those words, make it active. make it flow. I can change the details, add description where I have left it out, etc.

But it is a struggle! When I think my writing is terrible, it puts a damper on my mood (which my poor family and friends have to deal with, sorry to them!), and I go into a fit of, ‘I suck as a writer!’ 😀

But by the end, when all the layers are added, I come out of that mood having produced something I can be really proud of. A story that has been worth all the moods and hard work 🙂

What I’m trying to say is- Just write it. Don’t worry about language, or word use, or adverbs, or anything like that in a first draft. Just do whatever it takes to get that main bulk down.

It’s after the first draft that the real work begins 😉

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 2793 (Total word count: 23,503).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: We won’t talk about the lack of that…

Kindle and Smashwords: Formatting Tips

I’ve had a few emails from people asking about when I publish my books on Smashwords if they go through the ‘Meatgrinder’ and how do I do it.

I have to say I’ve never had a problem with Smashwords and all my books have gone through first time with no trouble. So, instead of copying and pasting the answer to reply to the emails, I thought I would do a blog on it.

Please note that these are just some of the things I do to get my books through Smashwords and Kindle, don’t take it as fact! I highly recommend reading both Kindle’s guide and Smashwords style guide in order to better understand the process.

This is a comparison of the same manuscript (my newest release, The Magic Spark) put through Smashwords (on the left) compared to Kindle (on the right).

kvss

Kindle Formatting:

– Justified alignment.
– Max Font Size: 20.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing between paragraphs/lines: Not above 90pt.
– Copyright: Normal.

Smashwords Formatting:

– Left alignment.
– Max Font Size: 18.
– Font Type: Arial or Times New Roman.
– Spacing Between paragraphs/lines: Not above 98pt.
– Copyright: Must have ‘Smashwords Edition’ included.

– The reason I don’t go over font size 18 for Smashwords is because they don’t accept a font size bigger than 20. So I make sure to keep it less so as I know my document will go through.

– I use Left alignment for Smashwords because I read on a couple of forums that Smashwords have rejected Justified alignment for others. I doubt it matters much to the average reader which alignment it is.

Some people don’t like the large gaps that can occur between words when Justified, and then others don’t like the straggling words at the end of paragraphs when left aligned. You can’t please everyone!

– Smashwords doesn’t like when you have more than two return spaces together. So check your document for them (You can see them when you press the psymbol symbol).

An easy way to do this would be to open up the ‘Find and Replace’ feature in Word, go to the bottom and you will a tab for Special, click on the ‘Paragraph Mark’ three times (or as many times as you have done it each time in document, say to add a page break) in the Find bar. In the Replace bar, click it once or twice as needed, but no more than twice.

paragraph

That should replace all those unnecessary spaces.

(The code for this is ^p – which you can type into the Find and Replace bars as needed eg for 2 returns it would read ^p^p).

Same applies to the spacebar, if you accidentally hit the space bar more than once. Use the ‘Replace and Find’ function for that two, using the spacebar instead of return key to get rid of those spaces.

Make sure to use the Format>Paragraph tool to add line spaces instead of using the return key on your keyboard.

– I always use the Format>Paragraph, Format>Font, and Insert>Break tools in order to add spaces or change font type, as this formatting sticks.

– As for the copyright, Smashwords require that you state ‘Smashwords Edition’, but Kindle (from what I’ve read) don’t like it all if you put ‘Kindle edition’ or ‘Amazon edition’.

– Spelling errors, an obvious one 😀 But I’d thought I’d add it. After all the editing, proofreading, and sending it off to readers to check, it’s still a good idea to run your document through the spellchecker before submitting it.

I take the time to bother with Smashwords as it’s a great portal for sending out your book to so many places once you’re on the Premium catalogue. They are doing the work of changing your document into many different forms, so I think it’s only fair I take the effort to get it just right following their guidelines

I know some people have issues with Smashwords, but personally, I have had no trouble and think it’s a great site.

In the end, it’s about choosing the places that suit you and your books and finding markets that you’re comfortable with 🙂

These are just what I do, because I’ve been asked, please don’t think I’m telling you what to do! Again, it’s all a very personal experience about how we organise and sort our manuscripts ready for publishing, and there are many other great blogs out there with advice on it (probably better explained too!).

Well, that’s about all I do 😀 Formatting can be great fun, as it can let you play about with your manuscript and make it look really professional and high standard. I hope these tips help!

Have a great weekend everyone and I will be back on Monday! ( I do have some scheduled posts as usual, but I won’t be around to answer comments or emails, please don’t think I’m ignoring you! 😀 ).

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 3678 (Total word count: 17,880).

Books read: 2/4.

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

Romance Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RW Banner

It’s that time again, Romance Weekly Blog Hop time!

If you’ve joined me from the lovely Josie Malone’s blog, author of The Hero Spell, then welcome!

Now onto the questions!

Which type of character do you prefer writing about: Sexy, romantic, sweet, quirky, mean, old, young, smart, silly or other?

I’d like to say sexy, but in all honesty it’s probably the snarky characters! 😀 Those ones that always have a comeback for everything and their sarcasm offers no useful input, but it’s fun anyway.

Have you ever killed off (or gotten back at) an ex in your writing? On paper, of course.

No, I haven’t. I do try to stay away from basing my characters off of real people, as I always worry someone will guess!

What hobbies do you have that you incorporate in your writing?

Gardening is probably the biggest one. I do tend to find when characters are in a garden, I have to hold off from going into explicit detail of how the flower would look and how best it should be cared for in the coming season 😀

Some interesting questions answered this week 😀 So head on over to J.J.Devine, author of Into the Darkness, and see what she has to say in response to them!

Also, why not check out the new Romance Writers Weekly Blog?

Or sign up for the newsletter?

There is a monthly giveaway and this month my newest release, The Magic Spark, is one of the prizes! 🙂

So, what about you guys- Have you ever got back at someone through your writing?

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 5283 (Total word count: 12,148).

Books read: 1/4

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

September 2014 Round-up and October 2014 Plan

I know, I’m a bit late!

Anyway, didn’t I just write one of these? 😀 I can’t even keep up with this year!

This month was a little bit of a blur, what with my vacation and getting The Magic Spark ready for release. But I managed it!

September:

– Kept to schedule.
– Released The Magic Spark, my fifth book!
– Had an awesome vacation, and got some lovely rest.
– Connected regularly with bloggers and found some new blogging friends, which was nice 😀
– Managed to share other people’s posts and book releases on Twitter and Facebook much more effectively.
– Just managed to squeeze in 4 books to reach my target! – The Rule of Four by Dustin Thomason and Ian Caldwell, Destiny of Kings by Fiona Tarr, The Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry, and The Forbidden Quest by Alaina Stanford.
– Cut social media hours down to 2 hours a day- Still figuring that out. It started well, but has recently started creeping back up!

Doesn’t seem like I did a lot, but it certainly felt like an exhausting month!

As for marketing… yeah, let’s not talk about that utter failure to do anything…

Onto October 😀

1st-31st- Write first draft of next book.
15th- Mid-October Book Review.
29th- End of Month Indie Review.

Goals:

– Read 4 books.
– I’m gonna put marketing in this list, but we all know how that’s going to go! 😀
– Write some short pieces, I miss that.
– Actively support others, and find new ways of doing so!
Sort out my Pinterest boards, they are such a mess.

So, other things that happened around the blogging/writing community this month:

– Marcia Meara set up a new writing focused blog- http://marciamearawrites.com/

– Shehanne Moore came back to us! – http://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/a-whole-new-league-with-anne-lange/

– Cassie at My Etch a Sketch Life gave Stolen Bloodline a great review! http://myetchasketchlife.com/2014/09/17/stolen-bloodline-by-mishka-jenkins/

– Got a sneak peek of characters from The Legends of Windemere by Charles Yallowitz series I am really looking forward to reading! – http://legendsofwindemere.com/2014/09/16/picture-sneak-peek-gabriel-and-his-unicorn/

– Karen at My Train of Thoughts posted some great quotes from some awesome bloggers- http://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/3-quotes-by-writers-we-know-and-admire/

– D. Emery Bunn released his new book, Darkness Concealed, which has gotten some great reviews so far! – http://www.demerybunn.com/blog/2014/09/23/darkness-concealed-is-out-now/

Hope everyone has a great October, a month (from the looks of Pinterest and Tumblr) that is going to be filled with pie and everything pumpkin related 😀

Photo by Twisted Pixel on Flickr- Click photo to go to Photostream

Photo by Twisted Pixel on Flickr- Click photo to go to Photostream

Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft.
Word count: 6,865

Books read: 1/4

Mid-October Book Review: Writing review.

The Magic Spark Release Day!

I’m so excited! 😀 The Magic Spark is out now!

MagicSparkCS

Blurb:
Successful businesswoman Alex is content with her life in London, and any ideas of romance have been left on the back burner. But when her fairy godmother, FG, waltzes into her office one morning announcing she has come to help Alex rekindle a passion for life and love, she is about to check herself into therapy!

The fairy godmother’s incessant wand-flicking soon lands them in the isolation of the Scottish highlands, where Alex’s next client, Mal Ross, not only stirs her professional interest but her romantic ones too.

Tasked with the enormous challenge of turning a historic castle into a flourishing hotel, the pair must work closely together whilst attempting to avoid the awkward situations the rom-com obsessed fairy godmother keeps forcing them into.

But the path of love is never smooth, no matter how much magic you throw at it.

The Magic Spark is a light, enjoyable read, full of fun and romance.

Favourite Quotes:

“What happened?” FG asked, scooting forward, her eyes wide with curiosity.

Owen seemed more than willing to participate in gossip. “Nobody really knows, not even me and I’ve worked for that family all my life. Me and my hen live not far from here, and there was a big commotion about it all in the village, though it was all very hush-hush. Didn’t please the locals not to know what was happening, that’s for sure.” He bellowed with a laugh so loud it filled the entire car with its jolly sound.

FG furrowed her brow. “Why does he live with a chicken?” she whispered.

“I think he means his wife,” Alex replied in just as much a hushed tone, whilst trying to stifle a chuckle.

They stood for a moment in silence before Paul’s blue-eyed gaze shifted to FG and his brows rose. “Oh, I’m sorry.” Alex jerked into action, giving introductions. “This is FG, she’s my-” She choked on her words. What was she meant to say? ‘Oh, this is just my fairy godmother who’s trying to set me up with your gardener?’ She bet that would go down real well.

“You’ll get cold, come on.” He stepped forwards and, before Alex had time to protest, he scooped her into his arms and cradled her to his chest.

“Because this isn’t at all embarrassing,” she said, flushing red and hoping he would think it was from the alcohol and not the fact she enjoyed being pressed up against him like some damsel from a fairy tale.

FG would have a field day if she found out about this.

For a full excerpt, click here to see the cover reveal post!

Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Createspace (Paperback)

Smashwords

Goodreads

I really enjoyed writing The Magic Spark, it was a great book that I got to have some fun with, especially FG. That fairy godmother certainly made me chuckle!

Romance Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

It’s Romance Weekly Blog Hop time! And we’re back to questions this week 🙂

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If you’ve joined me from Carrie Elks’ blog, then a big welcome!

1. You’re moving right along with a storyline and suddenly it takes an unexpected twist. Do you go with the flow and follow where the twist leads you or do you conform your story to your way?

Suprisingly, considering my need for everything to be organised and go to plan, I actually go with the flow 😀

When a plot takes a route I wasn’t expecting, then to me that is one of the best things it can do. If it’s a surprise to me, then it will be a surprise to readers. Plus, it’s always great fun seeing if you can weave it back into your original plan and have fun with matching everything up again!

2. What time of year is your best time for writing? Winter, Summer, Fall, Spring?

Fall or Winter. Those are the seasons that inspire me to stay inside and cosy up with a cup of tea and get some writing done 😀 The weather also usually drives everyone else indoors, so it’s super quiet!

3. When looking for a publisher do you chose a traditional press, indie route, or one that does both,ebook and print?

I am a self published author, so thankfully I don’t have to worry about that! I love the freedom self publishing gives me and also the control I get to keep.

I’m not very good at giving over control of my work, especially things I’ve worked so hard on! 😀

Now check out what J.J. Devine, author of Into the Darkness, has to say in response to these!

How would you answer these questions? How do you react when a plot takes an unexpected twist?

Progress Report:

Status of fifth manuscript: With the readers.
– Finished the cover!
– Need to do promotional things.
– Need to write blurb.

Books read: 2/4

End of September Indie Review: Written and ready.

Choices, choices…

Photo by Lauren Macdonald on Flickr

Photo by Lauren Macdonald on Flickr

So, my fifth manuscript is finally with the readers, and from the comments so far it sounds like it’s going great 😀

During the couple of weeks my readers have my manuscript, I usually start working on my cover, but also planning out my next book. This is so I’m totally organised and can begin writing as soon as the next month comes around.

The problem is choosing which book to write next.

Starting a new book is always exciting, with the thrill of finding new plots and twists, and figuring out characters to fill the world with! But there’s always a huge amount of nervous anticipation too, because I want to make sure I choose the right one.

It’s probably the same for all authors, but I do write a ton better when I’m really enjoying the story and characters I’m writing. And although I have a load of story ideas, I need make sure I figure out which one suits my current writing mood, and which one will keep me inspired and enthusiastic all the way through.

So, this week will be half working on getting organised on my new release, whilst also sifting through my piles of notes and notepads, trying to find which story is going to grab hold of my interest next.

It’s a tough job, as I already have about 4 which are really getting me inspired!

Starting and choosing a new story is definitely one of my favourite parts of being a writer 😀

How do you pick which story to write next? Do you have a bunch of story ideas to choose from? Is starting a new project one of your favourite things as a writer?

Progress Report:

Status of fifth manuscript: With the readers. Need to do cover/trailer/marketing.

Books read: 2/4

End of September Indie Review: Written and ready.

Good to be back :)

So, I am back from my vacation 😀 Which was an amazingly good time and I loved it!

Some pics:

Me reading in my amazing colourful pyjamas!

Me reading in my amazing colourful pyjamas!

Books we took to read.

Books we took to read.

Harli enjoying the beach.

Harli enjoying the beach.

A pic of the amazing sunset by my very talented mum- Twisted Pixel on Flickr- Click on pic to go to photostream

A pic of the amazing sunset by my very talented mum- Twisted Pixel on Flickr- Click on pic to go to photostream

I had planned to do some writing and reading whilst I was there, but ended up staring into space for the entire week. I think my brain really needed to do nothing for a whole 7 days.

Whilst on vacation I realised just how stressed out I had gotten. I was so busy and overwhelmed that I was not in a good place! Although I have tried my best to be organised and keep to a schedule, I think I was trying to pour too much into a working day and it was getting too much to handle.

Then I saw this post this morning- http://nhwn.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/remember-to-make-time-for-yourself-not-only-work-and-family/, and it inspired me to make a change that was most definitely needed.

Most of my day is taken up by social media (blogging, facebook, twitter, etc), which I know is very important in building an author platform, but surely, it can’t be more important than doing the actual writing when taking on a writing career, right?

So, my plan from now is to only do 2 hours of social media a day. A big cut from the 5+ hours I was spending on it before! But I really think it needs to be done. It means I won’t be able to comment as much on blogs or re-tweet so much, but I will hopefully learn to utilise those two hours more effectively, rather than letting the social media side of my career drag on and on throughout the day and into the night!

And that was pretty much all that came out of my vacation: a much needed revise of my schedule! I did manage to read one book, but that was about it, I really did just sit, stare, and walk on the beach.

It was the perfect vacation 😀

How long do you spend on social media? Do you ever need to revise your schedule? Are you good at sticking to a schedule? If you have any tips, then please let me know! 🙂

Progress Report:

Status of fifth manuscript: Editing. (Finally has a title though! 😀 Will do reveal soon).

Books read: 2/4

Mid-September Book Review: Written and ready.