Books and Reading Thursday: Two birds, one stone…

So, as you might have read, I have currently been reading and completing the first practical writing craft book on my TBR list.

And I have to say it’s brilliant! The confidence it has boosted in me as a writer is amazing, and it’s really helping me to see what I’m capable of.

In fact, it has been so awesome I have made the decision to always have a writing craft book on the go.

Now, I have said before that I’m not very good at reading two books at a time, but seeing as I will be reading a fiction and non-fiction, I think I can probably manage that. It will also mean I will be able to get through my TBR list a little faster!

I will also be doing it this way partly so as I can get back to reading fiction, which I am really missing! I will be reading the next book on my list, which is The Woodcutter by Kate Danley, which I will do a post about another week.

To any writers reading this, I highly recommend trying out some practical writing exercises either by finding them online or by getting a book. My word, I cannot begin to say the amount of confidence in my abilities it has given me!


Progress Report:

Status of sixth manuscript: Writing first draft again, finally!
Word count: 2523

Books read towards challenge: 1/50
Currently reading: The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton.

Advertisements

I have a confession to make…

So this week was my first week back after my long break- a break which was much needed and I was glad I took.

But I have to admit after such a while away from writing I was seriously nervous about getting back to actual writing.

At the beginning of the week I wasn’t even been able to look at the manuscript I’d been working on before Christmas.

Why?

I have no idea 😀

I was just really nervous about starting writing again. I’m sure a lot of it was to do with the fact I had such a long break, in which I only did tiny bits of writing here and there, all of which had nothing to do with the story I’m currently working on.

The thing is, it wasn’t even as though I had to start from a blank page. I am nearly finished with my current manuscript, it’s just the last few chapters that need doing, and I know exactly how they are going to go.

But mid-week, I pushed myself past the irrational worry of writing again and got out the folder with all my plans and inspiration sheets.

Well, it was an almost instant reaction.

I flicked through my chapter plans, my character sheets, my pictures and BAM! The excitement flooded back to me!

That intense excitement and passion that came flooding back to me in that moment drowned out any worry I had about writing after such a long break, and I opened up my manuscript and got straight back to it!

And it has been so good getting back to it! I forgot how much I need to write 😀 It was instant relief, and I got so into it I looked up at my clock a while after and three and a half hours had whipped by without me noticing!

Next week I will go back to having my status reports beneath my posts, as they always helped me keep focus and see if I was achieving my goals. My daily word count target during weekdays will still be 2000 words, and as with last year I will be taking weekends off.

So here’s to another great year of writing for us all!

Have you ever had trouble getting back into writing? How do you get your writing skills back into shape? Have you set yourself any daily word count goals?

*This is a scheduled post and I will be back on Monday to reply to comments and emails. Have a great weekend!*

Flaws aren’t always bad…

Lately I’ve been going through an older piece of writing and editing it and rewriting it. It’s not writing anyone will ever see, it’s simply a piece I come back to often for my own pleasure of writing.

Anyways, it’s been quite some time (over a year) since I’ve worked on it and as I progressed I realised my main character is incredibly selfish.

Often, when other characters experience emotional pain, she will become upset herself, but not for the same reason most of us would when watching a friend be sad. Instead, she worries about being upset herself at having to watch them go through the emotional trauma!

Well, I was a little more than put off by her, I have to say! 😀

I was determined to take out this flaw I had written into this character, and was about to do so throughout the entire manuscript, but stopped myself.

It might not be a flaw I like, but it’s obviously how I’ve written this character throughout the whole story. And if I take out her flaws, she’s not exactly going to be very interesting, is she?

So, even though I don’t like the trait, I’ve left it. Characters need to feel real and, I have to admit, it does round her out as a character when it’s left in. Throughout the rest of the story I have written other characters noting it about her, so it’s obviously something I’ve noticed before.

It might be nice to have her grow out of that trait, and change as a person.

That’s all part of the fun of writing, isn’t it? Letting our characters grow out of some their faults and become stronger for it 🙂

Have you ever given a character a trait you didn’t like? Do you enjoy writing their flaws as well as their strengths?

It’s Worth The Struggle…

I have a couple of links this week that really inspired me.

I think all writers, especially new ones, go through that down time of not progressing fast enough or not being where they want to be. It’s inevitable and can sometimes stop a person writing, but these posts really gave me a boost in confidence and motivation; to remember my dream and, even though it’s hard, it’s worth all the struggle to fight for!

They reminded me to write for the love of it, to work towards where I want to be, and not focus on the negative!

http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/build-your-writing-career/#more-4734

http://callummclaughlin.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/never-give-up/

Hope you enjoy them too!

Have a great Sunday everyone 🙂

Do you have any advice or tips? Have you ever felt a bit negative about where your headed in your writing? How did you deal with it?

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.