Tag Archive: Focus


When A Publishing Plan Goes Wrong

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I’ve wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. There were countless hours spent pounding out stories on an old typewriter at my parents kitchen table. Writing is something I’ve always done, not always in the same format, poetry, stories, plays and novels. Always, however writing.

Being a published author has been a dream, a goal of mine and it is one I have been working towards. I worked at it, I researched it, I networked. I read, voraciously. Then I wrote, and I wrote and I rewrote. Then finally I submitted to a competition, (not the first one I’d ever submitted too and not the first novel I finally finished). Much to my delight I made it through the first cut. Top 40 of 260. The next logical step was to submit to agents and publishers. After which I got a whole lot of nothing and a couple of rejections.

There was no way I was giving up on this, I loved my story, I believed in my story for as much as letting other people read it was terrifying.

The next step I decided on was manuscript assessment. A process no scarier than letting anyone read it, except hopefully if they didn’t hate it they would be able to help me figure out what I could do to improve it. The feedback I got was thankfully positive, I was thrilled that someone else liked my story. The best thing was this was where I got the best piece of advice, ‘it’s really good but a structural rewrite, if you want to put in the effort, will make it great.’ That one suggestion and I finally understood some earlier feedback that had made no sense to me.

This began the biggest part of my journey. I wrote, whenever I could, a scene here a scene there. I added, I took away. It was slow going, very slow going because when you are a wife, and mother as well as juggling work, it can be difficult to find time. Added to that was the fact this wasn’t the only project I was working on, sometimes inspiration for this project simply dried up but other ideas would just flow.

Then I had an amazing breakthrough. I got my version of the elevator pitch with a boutique publisher. Somehow I sold him on my story when I sold him on myself and my work ethic. He asked for what I had, which to be honest was an incomplete and patchy story. This kick started my writing again with vengeance. I wrote, rewrote and edited the first 50 pages and sent it off.

Even with no contract and no solid deadline it lit a fire in my belly. The writing burned through me and the story finally found it’s voice and form. The publisher got back to me and said as soon as I was done he wanted to offer me a contract. You may know how happy I was that day, it was as if everything I had worked for and through had been validated. Working my arse off I got it finished and finally got my contract.

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It would be wonderful if that was the end of the story. If we started editing and my book made it out into the world.

Instead I got

Nothing.

A few months after I signed my contract the publisher decided to go on indefinite hiatus due to stress. This left me in some state of limbo. What could I do, technically I was still in contract and he hadn’t closed the business just said he needed a break. I figured, that was probably a good enough reason to break contract if I needed too so I started putting out feelers again. Not a lot but a few, and there were no bites.

Then, from out of nowhere, when my contract was closer to its end than beginning, the publisher decides to go ahead and send me the first lot of edits, asking me how I would like to go forward. I was hesitant but the lure of publication is strong.

By this time though I had re-edited my story yet again, why not, it can always be improved. So I added his edits and sent off the new version. Then…

Nothing.

I send a message about cover art, because an artist I know has created a beautiful pic for me that I really wanted to use. I get a positive response.

Next thing I know a friend messages me and asks if I’m okay with the fact my publisher has decided to close his doors. That was the first I heard about it, then came the bulk email.

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I was heartbroken and so incredibly angry. I know there were extenuating circumstances, and I truly believe he didn’t mean for this to be the end result but it still felt like a crushing rejection. I ranted, I cried, I poured my frustrations out to an author I admire, who surprisingly answered me with some good advice.

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At this point you realise you have two choices. You either give up or you pick yourself up and push forward. I’m not much of a quitter, this is not something I’d spent a few weeks or months on and had little invested in, this was something I’d been working towards the greater part of my whole life.

Publishing is not an easy industry to break into and with the advances in technology I realised I had another choice; traditional publishing or self-publishing. My heart wanted me to go traditional, that was my dream. To have someone believe enough in my story to want to share it with others. I really wanted to be able to put a book in people’s hands. That path though could mean years of submitting and waiting and most likely a lot of rejections. Self-publishing meant I could get it out there by the time I was originally supposed to be published.

I bit the bullet. I love my story, I believe in myself (sometimes – so it must have been a good self-esteem day I made the decision) and I wanted to go forward rather than sit in a holding pattern indefinitely. I found myself an editor and hit send. I already had the art I wanted for my cover art and I know a wonderfully talented graphic designer who was happy to put the cover together for me.

When my editor got back to me saying that at times it ‘was like reading an already published book’, I couldn’t have been happier. With feedback like that you’d think it would be easy to upload to the e-book site and hit submit. One button and it is all done. That one button though carried a lot of weight, all my hopes and fears resting on one small click. In the end my hubby said ‘just do it,’ and I really had to take that chance on myself.

Publishing is scary, putting yourself out there in such a way opens you up to people you might otherwise hide from. Self-publishing may even be more so because at the end of the day you are the only one who believes in what you have done, it is all on you (friends and family don’t really count here, they are supposed to believe in you and support you).

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This is my journey so far. Not the one I wanted but the one I ended up with. I haven’t made my millions, I haven’t sold 50 copies as yet, but I have had great feedback from a large number of those who have read it. I’ve found some fans and even had my first royalty payment. All of which is better than nothing and better than not taking that chance in the first place.

 

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Still Writing

Okay so book one is finished, with beta readers and hopefully my publisher, I’d like to say these things are set in stone but unfortunately I’ve been around various aspects of the creative industries to know that nothing is certain until it is actually out there in the hands of the consumers.

Oh believe me I want it to be done, I want the book published, I want people to buy it, read it and hopefully like it. I also want to get paid for it. Selfish of me I know. I write because I have to write. If I don’t write things feel out of whack. I will probably always write regardless. Is is too much to ask though to be paid for it? I hope not.

I had an argument with a young chap once about not paying for books, just reading pirated versions. I told him he was an arrogant, selfish toad (possibly in more colourful language) for expecting others to entertain him with no compensation. Problem is many feel that way. They don’t see the creative process for what it is, someone’s hard spent time for which they should be compensated.

I am not here today to get into a rant about this. Today is a brief update. Book one is finished, book two has a complete rough first draft and book three has elements to it already complete. For now that series is being walked away from as a delve into another idea. Oh I am so excited about this idea but that is all I can say at the moment. I have been involved in this industry long enough to know sometimes you are just better off not saying anything because so many don’t understand and the heartbreak of rejection is terrible. For now this will be my secret work in progress. I know the first series will likely be finished first, before this second one is properly given it’s wings.

Still I write because I must write.

Yay Writing Time!

Okay so I am on holidays, it is November which makes it NaNo time and I have all these writing plans. Not that I’m officially doing NaNo this year.
The problem is life wants to interfere with my writing plans.
So I have a solution, not sure how well it is going to work though. I am going to set myself a daily target.
It sounds so easy.
Yeah right, it would be if my target was 200 words or something, but the fact is if I am going to make any headway at all on any of my WIP’s then I need to set targets way more out there than that.
I’m going to try and be logical about this though, or as logical as I can be. I will set my targets based on what each day holds. As most of my catchups have been done I can have a few really word heavy days. In fact todays ridiculous count is in the thousands. I’m hoping for like 5 of them.
Arrrgghh!
Right I’m getting off here then and sticking my head down over my manuscript.
Later.

It Begins

I am on leave…
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I have 6 glorious weeks off in which I can pursue those things that sometimes get lost in the need to work and stuff.
I plan on doing a whole lot of reading and a whole lot more of writing. It is an awesome feeling to know I have time to do those things which are most passionate to me.
The best thing about all of this is I have already started. I have finished a really good book, in fact I’ve gotten through a few recently and am starting to get my reading mojo back.
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This is a good thing as I have many books still to read and many more that I haven’t yet purchased (just give me time).
On this my second day of vacation I have managed to plonk myself down at my desk (having booted my munchkins off it momentarily) and gotten more than a few words down. Also a really good thing. Though I think I may need to invest in this shirt.
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Having all the good intentions in the world and being pushing along by the fact that it is NaNoWriMo (even though I’m not actively participating this year) is still only part of it. My problem is I possibly have too many projects to work on. I need to focus myself far more tightly if I am really going to achieve anything in this time off.
So head down bum up, pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard.
Just let me tidy my desk first.

A New Office

Some people need an uncluttered area in which to work and write. Me not so much. Usually I know where pretty much everything I need is… well mostly. Recently though I have had in my head that my office has needed an overhaul and it took weeks for me to get my new desk and then sort everything out, including all the books that had been packed for when we thought we were going to have to move.
Finally today I finished it.
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I honestly can’t remember the last time my office was so organised, probably not long after we first moved in.
I have to say it feels good. In the process so much stuff got thrown out. It can be quite amazing just how much stuff can be accumulated when you aren’t really looking.
More incredibly perhaps are the number of old projects I found. In some cases it is simply old versions of projects I’ve seen through to completion on one level or another and in others it’s little more than opening scenes or story ideas. Now it is all collated and if I ever got the time I probably have enough stuff to get on with for many years to come.
Thing is all this shuffling has left me feeling very focussed and ready to get my head down and write. All of which couldn’t have come at a better time because I have one more week of week before nearly two weeks off. I have many plans for that time, of course mostly that is writing and reading.
So very looking forward to it.

Woohoo Writing!

I did it. I took 8 days off, well it became 9 because of a family thing, but it has served it’s purpose. Of course the main purpose was to spend some quality time with the family, which included bowling and theme parks and home-made pizza. The other main purpose of taking some time was to try and get back into the rhythm of writing. I am happy to say that it has happened. I have written quite a bit and my pile of snippets and notes has decreased as I’m starting to put things in place.

There is a flow happening and it feels really good. Of course the silly thing is that it really flows late at night when I am supposed to be getting ready for bed. I am adjusting though. Because I write by hand in a book (yes I know how incredible old fashioned) I don’t get to encourage myself with updated word counts until it makes it to the computer for what is essentially the second draft. I’m okay with that though because for me the creative process works better with a pen in my hand.

I really love the process of writing. I mean really writing not just hitting keys on a keyboard. I love the flow of ink, I like looking back over a page and seeing the different styles of writing; the precise neat lines, the loopy scrawling lines and even the ones filled with shorthand. For some reason I don’t understand, nor do I much care why, the creativity flows better for me if I keep it old school. It is easier for me to break a writers block time with paper and pen in my hands than it is sitting in front of a white screen. That may of course be to do with the fact that the internet can be so very distracting and it’s so easy to say, ‘oh I just need to check in here’, or ‘I should just look into this for the sake of accuracy’.

Maybe this makes my process longer than some people’s but the truth is I don’t care and I couldn’t write what I do if I had to do it all onto the computer. Sure I change things and add things when I put my first draft into the machine that’s why it becomes a second draft but I also don’t actually plan my novel or story out before I write it. Often my story surprises me and I like that too. It could be that that is why the creative flow of pen and paper works so well for me.

The thing is though, not to get bogged down on the how but focus instead on the fact the story is coming along nicely. I like where I am right now. Hopefully now I’ve taken to time to refocus and get some stuff really flowing it will continue to flow when I make it back to work this week.

Be thinking of me and may the muse continue to inspire you.

Days On, Days Off

I am about to have my third day of work, so 36 hrs of work in 3 days. The pay off is that I’m about to have 3 days off after tomorrow. This is a great thing.

Of course it would be a better thing if I could get up on my days off, do my workout and sit in front of my computer for, oh I don’t know 6 hours and just write.

Now see that would be awesome.

Hasn’t happened yet though.

On the upside I have actually been managing to write not just on my days off but also the days I’ve done 12 hour shifts. I’m pretty pleased about this.

The big thing for me of course is the question, will I get this structural edit done this year? A question followed closely by will it be good enough to be published (one way or another?) I am not above self publishing electronically. In this day and age it would be silly to dismiss it.

There is a part of me though that really wants to be published traditionally. I know it’s a lot to do with the fact that this was my dream for such a long time. I wanted to be a published author before the first e-reader was around (not that that was really all that long ago).

So you lovely and possibly strange people out there : if your dream is publication, does it matter what format it comes out in?

Oh and while I’m asking questions does anyone know if I will get this rewrite done this year?

WooHoo

Alright, here I am, where I wanted to be. On the brink of a week filled with writing.

Now you know (or maybe that should be I know) that there are going to be loads of things that will try to infringe on my time. In an effort to head this off at the pass I set myself a couple of goals for this weekend. Firstly I needed to finish our taxes, not necessarily a big task just a damn fiddly one and its those fiddly things that take so much time. Regardless I can tick that off my list. I also needed to post on my blogs. I mean in all honesty there is nothing to say I have to post but it’s my own determination that sets this goal for me. So here I am two down one to go. (Well almost two down.)

I am very much looking forward to this week. How productive this turns out to be is yet to be seen but at the moment I have some high hopes, maybe more like realistic expectations. I hope to get 20,000 words down between now and my next post. That works out to less than 5000 words a day, lets just hope I don’t get too distracted by other things.

Oh crap I realise I just set myself a target. I’m not sure how realistic this target is. On the upside last time I set myself a target for my writing (NaNo) I actually achieved it. Well then I guess I can do this.

No no guessing about it, I will do this.

I suppose this means you are my accountability people. You will keep me to my goal.

The Flow

The scenes are starting to flow. This is always good and awesome. My problem now is that I am motivated to do so many things I wish I could cut work out of my daily equation.

Part of my problem is that when I have the time to write other things have a tendency to come up and so the writing gets put aside. Or I know I only have a short period of time and can’t bring myself to sit at my desk and try and get stuck into it because if I do I know when the munchkins come in I’ll get grumpy with them. Oh I try not to. There are times I go out of my way to make them feel welcome in my office but if I’m honest there is a part of me that just wants to be left alone to do my thing at times.

I guess part of the problem is also that the task ahead of me with my fantasy project, is such a big job. Stripping one idea into two and then adding the rest isn’t as easy as writing one story. I have the idea there for both sure but going  through and deciding which goes where is a big enough project let alone writing the extra parts to ensure that two separate stories then exist…Well like I said not easy.

It’s nice that some of it is flowing with the new writing so that I’m writing complete scenes not just snippets but there is still so much to do and that is daunting.

So here I am, much later than planned because my eldest is getting so she stays up later and something else came up that was kind of  important, finally getting my blog entry down. I often have such hopes for a saturday night but so often it becomes my flake night. I could console myself with the fact that we all need time to do nothing and flake, but that only works sometimes.

Then of course there are moment like right now when I realise I really want something sugar loaded. Maybe that’s why my writing has slowed…because I’ve reduced my chocolate intake. This might need some looking into.

NaNoWriMo

Well hello November, this year I have decided to take on the challenge that is NaNoWriMo. Yes, yes I know there are plenty of people who think it is a crap idea but for me I think it is just what I need. I work well to deadlines and I need the push at the moment to get me focussed.

I do not however think that what I will produce will be in any way worthy of publishing that’s what the polishing and editing processes are for. This is just to get the story, the plot and the characters onto page formed into something more than an opening scene in my head.

See you in thirty – though I’m sure I will up date you along the way.