A new novel beckons: Curse of the blinking cursor

A new novel beckons: Curse of the blinking cursor

Every so often I encounter the blank page. More so when I’m about to embark on a new project. And every single time (and even though I now have 6 completed novels written) it affords me the same sense of excitement mixed with a dash of oh-my-god-how-am-I-going-to-finish-this! It’s just so much of blank emptiness that needs to be filled that’s so easy to make a writer doubtful.

I’m busy outlining Lost Soul, the second book in the DarkWorld series. It’s so much fun playing with characters and scenes, defining motivations and refining plot lines. But once it’s done, the next step is to open up that document and face the blinking cursor.

Breaking it Down
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s upwards of 90 thousand words, roughly 100 hours of writing time for me. that’s a huge job to face down. Breaking it down into manageable bits makes it feel less daunting, makes the task seem less insurmountable.

If I’m concentrating on one particular project I like to set a goal, maybe 5000 words per day. If I don’t hit that goal I readjust my numbers as I write but I keep track. I’m a spreadsheet nut so I love drawing up a list of days with my targets, actuals and running totals. Watching my progress keeps me in line, makes me want to hit my target and makes the ginormous job so much easier to complete.

The Mid-novel Slump
Some writers have this problem and although I called it the mid novel slump, we tend to experience this slump at different times for different projects. Some writers hit the one third mark and sit back frustrated because it suddenly feels like you’re running on empty. I usually reach this point at around 60K. The end is in sight and yet finishing seems like I’m climbing the steepest mountain.

At this point I am often tempted to begin my revisions, and sometimes this has worked. I’ve gone back, tightened the plot, fixed plot holes and motivations which may make the final 30k much easier to write.

Sometimes this is a bad idea, mainly because it’s a reason to keep fiddling and never finish the novel. This is an especially frustrating problem for new writers so I’d suggest newbies don’t take this route, just write to done and then revise.

If you don’t have a problem finishing, if you don’t fall into the cycle of fix fix fix without reaching the end, then going back to revise may be a good thing for both you and your novel. It gives me the opportunity to read what I’ve written, to remember the cool stuff I wrote, to refine those awesome story threads that I may have forgotten (believe me this happens pretty often) as I’ve been barrelling along meeting my daily wordcount goals without a backward glance.

For now I’m rounding up Dead Chaos (Valkyrie #3) and plotting Lost Soul (DarkWorld #2) and maybe I’ll throw in a revision for Seals of Hades (Irin #1). Let’s see how things go…

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Writing in the face of Pain

Against the will of my body I am making progress on the edits of Fire. To say its been a struggle is a bit of an understatement. I know what it’s like to not be in the mood to write, but to be all fired up and ready to and be unable to write is frustration tenfold.

My daily choice is simple. Medication for pain which makes me drowsy and useless, as morphine does…lol. Or pain in all its debilitating glory which makes for decidedly slow editing and writing progress. I’ve manned up a good few times, refused the peace of pain relief and muddled through the first two rounds of my edits.

There’s a lot to do when you get your MS back from your editor and I hope I’m doing an acceptable job of it. I do up to three passes. One to accept easy fixes and suggestions. The second round is deeper, looking at suggestions that either didn’t sit right (insert ego here) or suggestions that means a change needs to be layered through or removed from the MS.

The last round is the final check, going deeper, looking at how the story works, how the prose works, and basically to make sure I like what it seeing. Usually the 3rd pass is quick. They were for my previous novels. Not so with Fire. And not for lack of trying.

I’m chugging along and I’ll get there. Here I have to say kudos to any writer who writes in the face of pain. Pain is debilitating and creativity destroying and emotionally taxing so hats of to all you amazing scribes out there creating and producing your stories in its of pain.

And if you aren’t a writer you still rock…life is tough and pain is an unwanted hurdle so if you have the strength to thumb your nose at debilitating pain then you’re simply awesome.

Fire, edits and Quickoffice Pro HD

It’s an overcast rainy day here in Auckland, been raining most of the night so it seems we are in for a very wet winter season. But yeah, if you live in Auckland you’re pretty much used to the rain.
A few minutes ago I was debating whether to read or to get back to my edits on Fire. Because I’m in recovery after a pretty bad 36 hour headache I really want to just curl up on the couch. With the fact that I recently downloaded Quickoffice Pro HD for my iPad I don’t have much of a choice at all. So now I’m curled up on the couch editing.

I pretty much can’t live without my ipad. Just this morning DH suggested I have it surgically attached to me … Lol, isn’t he just too funny?

About six months ago I went searching for an app that would allow me to edit on my iPad, making things a little more comfortable for me at the height of my edits. I discovered Cloudon and downloaded it happily. It’s clunky, and slow, but allowed me to use track changes so I could crit my CPs work and do my edits in bed, on the couch or at the coffee shop.

But on Wed I received an email from Cloudon thanking me for being part of their trial process (wish I’d known it was a trial??) and offering me the opportunity to use the track changes feature from now on for a price. $38.99 per year, about 4 bucks a week or just under $2 a day. What? Really? And they intended to begin charging users the very next day. Not much notice there guys…

So Cloudon put a serious kink in my plans as I was going away for a couple of days and intended to work mostly on my CPs manuscript which had a deadline (which I’d already missed but Mel so kindly gave me an extension. Isn’t she just awesome?)

So, fuming, I searched the iPad apps, found Quickoffice Pro HD and downloaded it immediately. Trigger happy, wasn’t I? Not really. With QO Pro HD at $24.99 for the app (For ever) common sense said I didn’t have much of a choice, duh! I happily paid for it, and will happily pay for upgrades in the future. Why should I (or anyone else) pay $38.99 per year for something we can pay $24.99 for outright. Did Cloudon not do their research? Market analysis? Maybe there is some reason they think they are justified in their charges but seriously, I do prefer the QO app. It’s neater, the track changes are easy to use and the program is not slow. Cloudon otoh, looks a lot like the actual Word doc but was slow to scroll, clunky, and reload took too much time.

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So, I’ve left Cloudon for something much better and easier to use.
What does this mean?
It means I no longer have a reason to not edit, simply because I can relax on the couch and edit. It also means I can work more… Haha…bet DH would love to hear me say that.

Now for something a little more fun… My lovely design consultant Leigh has been playing with title fonts of the Fire cover as it gets closer to full reveal.

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Maya is giving me a run for my money too. This book is coming along, and I’m having so much fun with gods and demons, magic and fight scenes. And, horror of horrors, I had to delete two chapters! But seriously it’s not bad at all. Doing so will tighten the manuscript and keep the story moving. (Remembers editors comments on moving the story along, and chuckles) Thank goodness I’m not the kind of writer who faints at the thought of killing her darlings.

I’m hoping to have all edits done by end of June with an early to mid July release. I may announce the release date when I do the full cover reveal *crosses fingers

Now, back to editing on the couch…

So tell me…
Do you use an iPad to work?
What apps do you find awesome to use?
Do you like to relax and work like me or are you a work is work and relax is relax kind of person?

My Journey in Publishing- 16 months on

I was just wrapping a bunch of SKIN DEEP orders, getting ready to send out some signed book orders and I got into a contemplative mood. It’s been 16 months since I waded into publishing, since Dead Radiance was published, and I was griping (silently) that I hadn’t done well enough. Three books out in 16 months is a pretty good release rate but what bugs me is that Dead Chaos should have released in Feb but will likely only make it to my readers in Aug 2013. Plus Skin Deep was meant to release in Nov 2012 but only made it there 5 months later in late April 2013.

I know, I can hear a few of you going ‘But you’ve been through so much, stop being hard on yourself’, but you see I am always the taskmaster of myself.  I told readers who were clamouring for DEAD CHAOS that it would release Feb 2013 and it didn’t. To me that’s just not acceptable.

Still I’m trying to be positive, looking forward to Fire reaching readers mid to late July. I’m deep in edits right now, the heaters warming my feet and its storming outside. Love rainy days –the only thing missing is a roaring fire.

I’ve been treated by Miss 17. Just love TYPO!

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The cover for FIRE is well on its way to completion- I’m hoping to show it off in the next two weeks.

I’m still putting the finishing touches on Dead Chaos, keeping my fingers crossed that Valkyrie fans will like where the story is going. Fingers crossed, with editing going well and cover done on time, DEAD CHAOS should release mid August.

Plus there is Seals of Hades (UF/Paranormal) that needs one round of revisions before it’s off to my editor. As yet I can’t stick a date onto this novel (yeah I’m not making any promises lol)

And just as an aside- some work is being done on the second book in the DarkWorld series. I just couldn’t help myself, I’ve fallen back in love with Kailin’s worlds and all the interesting characters in SKIN DEEP.

And just so I can remind myself that my books are actually REAL

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The value of a good editor? Priceless!

When I first began to write it was all about getting the best sentence down on paper (laptop/PC). Because that’s where I thought that writing a book starts. And it does, depending on the type of writer that you are. I pantsed my first novel, sitting down to write with a mere scene in my head, re-reading what I wrote the day before and allowing my fingers to do the talking for each new scene. Some writers are plotters and plan out their novels scene by scene before they start writing, and this works brilliantly for many writers too.

Whatever our chosen method of writing that all important first draft, we always end up in the same place after we type THE END. Editing. Or more specifically, self-editing. This stage is the writer’s polish stage. It could take one or five or ten drafts for a writer to reach that stage where he knows he can do no more. That the manuscript is finally at the stage where it needs to move on to the next level in its gestation.

Hiring a good editor is of paramount importance especially for a newbie writer. Some experienced writers may choose to skip the editor stage, but this is after years of experience where they are able to say ‘Yes, I have this, I can do this without an editor’.

So what is the difference between your own revisions of your manuscript and the editing process with your editor? Incredibly, there’s a tonne of difference. Believe me, you won’t want to skip hiring a good editor because you may think you have it sussed.

This is where too many new writers make their biggest mistake. Whether it’s arrogance, ignorance or personal choice, some writers skip this stage. IMHO it’s a huge mistake. My first experience with a proper experienced editor taught me so much about writing, about how to think about the stages your novel follows, about conflict and character arcs. (Thank you Annetta!) It was a real eye-opening experience.

It made me realise that writing is a very insular experience. You’re sitting down with your creativity and producing something you made up all by yourself. There will be flaws. Lots of them. Stuff will be missing (it’s there in your head, you just haven’t made it accessible to the reader yet, that’s all). Sometimes you will find you’ve mixed things up. Scenes change, characters change, motivations change, and maybe you’ve not followed them through. Trust me, much of this you cannot see for yourself because you are too close to the story. You know everything, understand everything, characters, world, plot, mystery, history. You’re so close you can so easily miss something important.

And your editor’s job is to ensure you get the world in your head down on paper properly. Your editor is there to help you fill in the gaps, smooth out your story arc, ensure you are engaging the reader sufficiently. Of course, your editor is also there to help you make conscious decisions on prose and maybe you will even end up killing a few darlings, but in the end you will have a cleaner, tighter, more professional piece of work to give to your readers.

Note: your editor is not there to rewrite your work, or to write in scenes and chapters for you. Be very wary. Should your editor begin to do this, you are completely within your rights to stop and review the process and your contract because no professional editor should take it upon themselves to add text or to change characters or plot. Suggestions may be made for the betterment of your story, and its up to the author to decide how to use those suggestions to tighten up the story. It is crucial you find a professional editor that you can work well with.

Because, at the end of the day your readers matter the most. Don’t cheat them by publishing a half done novel. Take pride in your work, be professional in what you present to the world.

My advice? No matter what, hire a good editor. Going to release late? Doesn’t matter… Get that editor and you’ll be so happy you did.

Oh and it doesn’t end there. After you and your editor are done, get yourself a proofreader. Every book deserves a final once over by a pair of eagle eyes who will catch the things you missed. After all that fixing and polishing, the write and the editor are now too close to the manuscript. Small things will get lost in the mix, missing words, missing punctuation, wrong words used etc. your proofreader brings fresh eyes to your project, finding all those little errors that were missed along the way.

The best part of writing as a career is that we are all constantly learning about writing as a craft. So it makes perfect sense that part of our learning experience should come from the people we seek out to help us bring our work to as close to perfection as possible.

Skin Deep & Fire edits & annoying new ideas & a Valkyrie blog Tour

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I made this banner for my FB page and I couldn’t believe it when people began sharing it. Seems there are a few readers out there who are waiting on tenterhooks for this book. I’ve also had a bunch of emails from eager readers about Skin Deep, Fire and my schedule.

When is the actual release date for Skin Deep?

The way things stand I’m hoping to give you Skin Deep on the 30th April 2013 as the banner says. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping I don’t fall ill in the next few weeks. I have my ups and downs but when I’m down I’m down and out for at least 2 days and usually need a day to recover. That’s three days I cannot afford to lose. So keep your fingers crossed for me and for Skin Deep.

You’re totally going to love Kailin. She’s a demon hunter and she turns into a Black Panther. She’s got a killer to catch and people to save and someones trying to make her dead! And then there’s Logan…

Are you enjoying your edits for Skin Deep or is it really, really hard work?

Yes! Love it! So far it’s pretty much on track. Edits are coming along nicely, and this being a story I wrote in 2010 it’s interesting to read my work from the old days..lol. I’m halfway through the first round with my editor and am so eager to get into the nitty gritty of things. I love reading my editors comments. She’s very astute, picks up on stuff I’d be totally blind to. Love it when she asks a question and my answer is “Er… I dunno… I wrote it ages ago and rewrote it so many times, how the heck should I know what I meant to say?” Lol.

This makes me scared knowing I’m planning on releasing another novel written a while ago (The Seals of Hades, written from Nov 2010 to Feb 2011) At least this novel I remember in big bright details. I loved writing it. Angels and Hades, smart ass demons and a kick butt main character. What’s not to love?

What’s the latest on Fire and its release date?

Fire is next on the list with my editor waiting to have it back in her hot little hands. I haven’t set a firm date for Fire yet. Just waiting on the cover and a good feel for when the editing process will be complete. I’m trying not to put too much pressure on my poor little head lest it explodes. I’m tentatively thinking end of May to middle of June. *crosses fingers behind back

Please please tell us when Dead Chaos is going to be released?

I’m hoping to have Dead Chaos released by the end of July, latest mid-August but I will update as I go. We will start on the DC cover as soon as the Fire cover is ready. I love covers and I’m so excited to do the Fire cover reveal, I just can’t wait.

And to make matters worse I’ve have Vampires and Dystopians on the brain. Some new ideas percolating, who knows where they will go though. I’m pretty sure my plate’s full enough at the moment!

Better get back to editing, writing and trying to stay sane all at the same time….

Oh and before I forget! A Blog Tour for the Valkyrie series

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  APRIL 10 – MAY 10

4/22/13 – 4/26/13 A PAGE AWAY ~ 

WEEK SPOTLIGHT & REVIEW

4/27/2013 
ALEX READS ~ REVIEW

4/30/13
PIECES OF WHIMSY ~ REVIEW

5/1/13
PARANORMAL PLEASURES ~ REVIEW

5/4/13
DARK OBSESSION CHRONICLES ~ REVIEW

 

5/7/13
BOOK CRAZY ~ REVIEW

5/8/13
MY FAMILY’S HEART BOOK REVIEWS ~ REVIEW

5/9/13
LOVELY READS ~ REVIEW

5/10/13
CAMEO RENAE ~ REVIEW