writing

My Writing Process: Timelines

I must be a slow learner.  You’d think that after self publishing two stories (1 novel, 1 novella), I’d have figured out what works for me and stuck with it. But no – not me. In an effort to become a better writer, I’ve attended writers conferences and workshops. I’ve purchased books and followed different blogs. I was like a sponge soaking up everyone’s advice only to find out that what works for one writer doesn’t necessarily work for others.

Take outlining.  I’ve tried it – not once – but several times. Do you know what it got me?  A case of writers block. Following an outline literally sucked the fun out of the process. No matter how many times I tried to implement the “you’ll write more books if you outline” strategy, I failed miserably.

Acceptance.

I had to accept that I’m me – just me – and because I’m me, my writing style is governed by the things that make me tick.  In my everyday life, I don’t live by lists.  I may take one grocery shopping but chances are I’ll forget something on it and pick up three things that aren’t.   I’m not a planner/plotter, I’m a pantzer and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong. While an outline might rob me of my creative breath, a timeline lets me breathe easier.

I’ve accepted that I’m never going to write a story from beginning to end. Instead, I write scenes as they come to me. Most of the time they are in order but there are those times a character may get really excited and spout off about something that happens fifty pages into the future.

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Image:  Microsoft Word Clipart

This is where my timeline comes in handy. As I edit my story, I complete the timeline.  It allows me to visually see what’s going on. I’ve tried different writing programs but I guess I’m old school. There is something about the actual writing of the events on the timeline that solidifies the story in my mind. I feel like I am better able to identify inconsistencies in both the plot and characters.

If you haven’t found your process, a timeline might help. If you have, stay true to what works for you!

Happy writing!

-Deb

 

 

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DISTRACTIONS – THEY’RE EVERYWHERE

Like so many of you, I work a full-time job and squeeze in my writing here and there. I find it tremendously sad that the thing I enjoy most is the first thing that is sacrificed at the altar of not enough time.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels a bit brain-dead at the end of a work day. And to be honest, it’s not that my job is unduly stressful or that I work in an unpleasant environment. Hardly. I like busy days and I get along with my co-workers. But there is a certain frustration that lingers with me through out the work day. Story ideas are born. Characters stop by and introduce themselves and to be quite honest, distract me from my work. I might make a note or two, time allowing, and I usher them away. By the time five o’clock has rolled around, my eyes are tired from staring at a computer screen. And those characters – they are long gone…

A short drive home and I’m preparing dinner. I might go for a ride in the jeep just to unwind. And I might plan on getting a few words down only…

DISTRACTIONSDistractions.

Excuses.

Poor time management.

Whatever you want to call it – it robs many of us (writers) of valuable time. And it does so, so insidiously, we often fail to recognize it’s happening.

It starts out innocently enough. An internet search/fact check becomes a quick stop on Amazon… A look at a cute puppy video is followed by a notification of a friend’s Facebook update… A text message that leads to a phone call… A short break that turns into an hour in front of the television…

Before you know it, your best laid plans have failed and its time to go to bed and you didn’t make any headway on your latest WIP.

The frustration is real. So real in fact, that I decided I needed to be proactive.  Following the suggestions of many other writers, I made myself some rules.

  1. Turn off the cellphone.
  2. Turn off the television.
  3. Do not access the internet.
  4. Be committed.  Schedule writing time and stick to it.
  5. Go on DND (do not disturb) during scheduled writing time.

So this is the plan.

Got my fingers crossed that I’m disciplined enough to follow through.

 

When the Universe Speaks

It’s been a month but I can finally say that I feel like the old me!  Woohoo!  Good health is something to be appreciated!

After being sick for so long, it’s been difficult to get back into the groove of things as far as my writing goes.  I guess the universe, or my muse, or whatever decided I needed a push. Who would have thought it would come from Chinese carry-out? Seriously – when your fortune cookie starts offering writing advice, it’s time to stop making excuses!

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Let the writing begin!

Who’s Selling My Books?

For those of us who self published, we took on the responsibility of marketing our books. Whether or not they get noticed falls on our shoulders and it’s a daunting task.  It’s kind of like hoping someone will notice a single snowflake in a blizzard.

wp_ss_20160320_0006I pulled up my book on Amazon and realized that other sellers are offering it as low as $5.15.  To be honest, I can’t really figure out how that is happening especially since nearly all my sales have been e-Books and Amazon is getting it directly from CreateSpace.

Locally, my paperbacks are available in a couple of stores and at festivals that I attend.  I realize that the world is small but I can’t imagine how one of those books have ended up across the ocean and as far away as India.

What I know is this – I keep a small number of books on hand. There hasn’t been a huge printing because I’m the publisher and unlike big publishing houses, my printing budget is quite limited.

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Hmmm…

I wouldn’t have a problem with finding my book in a used book store or at a yard sale. I figure I’ve been paid and the buyer is free to do with it what they will.  Okay – I’d rather it not end up in a bonfire…

But if it does, hopefully someone from the press is covering the burning…

I just have to assume that I’ve been paid for the books these online sellers are offering.

Being self published, I don’t know or understand all of the contractual details between writers and their publishing houses.  I haven’t a clue as to how they work out the difference with books that don’t sale.  It’s something I’ve never given much thought to until recently.

At my local Dollar Store, books – both hard and soft covers – can be purchased for (drum roll please) $1.00.  I always assumed these books were out of print, that instead of the publisher sending the books to be shredded/recycled, they chose to sell them for cents on the dollar – hoping to recoup some of their investment.

On a whim, I purchased three books.  Two were hard covers, one was a paperback.
When I got home, I visited Amazon and received quite the surprise.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness was available in either print and or e-Book.  With only 20 paperbacks left in stock, I feel pretty safe in assuming that the publisher has essentially removed the book from print and perhaps tried to recoup some of their investment.

Shame by Greg Garrett was available only as an e-Book. (Other online sellers were offering it for as low as $0.01 plus shipping.)

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Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan:  Amazon had 16 paperbacks left in stock. Like the other books, private sellers were offering it for as low as a penny (plus shipping).wp_ss_20160320_0005

That’s the thing, just because a book is out of print doesn’t mean it’s out of print as far as e-Books go.  And while I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, it does seem a bit unfair to the authors that their hard cover/paperbacks are being sold for a buck and they aren’t being compensated.

I guess you have to consider the potential trade-off. A reader who isn’t familiar with an author and buys his/her book from a dollar store and likes what they read, might be more likely to purchase another book or e-Book at full price. In a way, its kind of like a weird marketing plan. The same might be applied to used book stores and online sellers. Maybe dropping $10.00 on an e-Book written by an unfamiliar author is out of the question for some readers.  Whereas, we might be more inclined to pay that price for a book written by someone we trust to tell a good story. Seriously, it’s that line of thinking that has many authors choosing to offer a book for free.

As for the online sellers offering my books – they probably aren’t having much success. It’s hard to compete with  a 99 cents e-Book.  And while my books aren’t free, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m virtually unknown. I’m just holding onto the hope that someone notices this snowflake in the blizzard of published books.

-Deb