Sticking to the plan?

Plan

I thought I’d do a pre-Christmas post about sticking to the plan when writing. Or not. You see I’ve found it hard to stick to the plan for my current story Teaching Mr Leavis (a romance).

In the past when I’ve begun working on a story, I’ve made a plan and mostly stuck to it. Not so with this story. This time, for some reason, I’ve veered quite far from the plan.

This has brought opportunities and complications. I’ve found that as regards the plot, I floundered quite a bit after the beginning. I kind of had an idea for the end (although that too has now changed), but I had no clue as to what should happen in the middle of the story.

Which obviously creates a problem. The thing is I’d only semi-planned what should happen in the middle of the story and when the story began to unfold in a very different way to what I’d initially planned, it was hard for me to rein it in, if you like, and bring it back to what I’d originally planned.

So I didn’t. I just went with the flow and although it’s been quite exciting, I would say that next time I’d rather stick a bit more closely to the plan. Because the thing is, despite appearances to the contrary, I’m a plotter not a pantser and while it was exciting to have the characters move the plot along in ways I couldn’t have expected, I also felt rather lost.

In general I’m a highly organised person. So when things don’t go according to plan, that can feel a little strange for me! But I’m the first to admit it has been interesting writing this story and doing it a bit more by the ‘seat of my pants’! I’ve been able to develop characters and change aspects of their natures. I’ve thought more about what really works in a romance,what readers of romance expect when they read one, and how I can fulfill their expectations.

The main problem I’ve found by not sticking to the plan is that the story is a lot shorter than I’d envisaged. I was initially aiming for around 70,000 words and it’s come out about 20,000 words short. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem though. I don’t know if you’ll agree with this, but it seems to me that ebooks can be virtually any length, that really anything goes. That’s just what I’ve surmised over the past couple of years through blogging and interacting with other authors, as well reading other indie authors’ books.

To conclude then I would say that for me as a writer, I work better and more productively when I have a more coherent plan to begin with. I would never say that I would stick religiously to it, but a good plan helps give the story I’m writing a good backbone, a good skeleton on which to build the flesh of my narrative. But writing Teaching Mr Leavis has definitely been an interesting process to explore what works for me as a writer.

So over to you. Are you a plotter or a pantser or a bit of both? How do you tackle the whole writing process?

Taking a back seat for a while

Hi all. Just  a very quick post to say that I’m still here but not doing as much in the blogging world at the moment. Reason being I recently started a new job and although it’s part time, I’m finding it’s taking me a while to get used to my new routine.

The upshot is I’m very tired at the moment and I’ve got zero energy so I’m just going to take it easy for a while and blog as and when I can. I hope you can understand that I need to do this for my own well being and that as soon as I’m able I’ll be participating more in the blogging world.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a very happy New Year. :D

A very quick WIPpet

Hi everyone. How’s your week been? My apologies for missing last week’s WIPpet Wednesday. I was working. The new job’s going well but it’s quite tiring.

Anyway I’m working again tomorrow and I’m busy the rest of today, so most likely I won’t be able to comment on anyone else’s post until Friday. So this is just a quick WIPpet.

I’ve chosen 5 short paragraphs to share from Teaching Mr Leavis and my maths goes like this (it’s simple as always!): 3 (for the day) + 2 (for 2014) = 5

Just to get you up to speed – this excerpt that I’m sharing with you takes place near the beginning of the story and it’s one of the new bits I’m adding in my editing process. This scene takes place outside the school where my MC Rebecca teaches. Jonathan Leavis is giving her a hard time (as usual). He’s angry at her for keeping his son Daniel behind at school for a detention and so causing him to miss an appointment:

‘Mr Leavis, I cannot be held responsible for any missed appointments your son has had,’ she said, barely keeping her anger at bay. ‘But perhaps if Daniel had told me that he had an appointment I might have…’

‘Oh that’s a pathetic excuse if I ever heard one,’ Mr Leavis interrupted, his expression incandescent with rage. ‘Daniel’s a kid; he’s never going to remember these things. If he’d come out on time though, we would have made it and I…’

Disgusted with the way the conversation was headed, Rebecca decided she’d had enough of it. ‘Mr Leavis, I have said all I am going to say. Goodbye.’ And she turned and began to walk away.

‘I’m not finished yet,’ he said in a loud voice. She heard footsteps behind her and then felt a hand on her arm. Amazed at his audacity she turned around, aware that Daniel and some other bystanders were watching.

‘What do you…’ The words died on her lips as she looked at him. In spite of the anger she felt, there was a not-unpleasant tingling in her stomach. His eyes were blazing at her, his face was red and yet as their eyes met, for a moment Rebecca felt an affinity with him. She couldn’t think why.

Like to join in WIPpet Wednesday? It’s easy. Simply post an excerpt of your recent writing work on your blog, then add your name to this little linky thingy. Just make sure it relates in some way to the date. Don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ contributions too.

Thanks goes as always to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :D

Cover reveal of Stones and Finger Bones!

Today I’m taking part in the cover reveal for Jessica Minyard for her debut novel Stones and Finger Bones. Here’s  a synopsis:

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.
 
Until the night she loses everything.
 
Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.
 
But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.
 
They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.
 
And if necessary, to destroy her.
And here is the cover:
stones_promoIsn’t it great? And here’s some info about Jessica:
Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull and has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Murray State University.

She wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards, sometimes.

Thankfully, she no longer illustrates her stories. Stones and Finger Bones is her first novel.

Social Media Pic_edited-1
Here’s where you can connect with Jessica:
Twitter: @jl_mizzle
Instagram: @jl_mizzle
Cover design by Ravven (www.ravven.com)

My writing’s been sidelined

I thought I’d write a blog post about not writing. Yes, you heard me. OK, so I haven’t given up writing, far from it. Despite abysmal book sales and feeling low about it, that’s not what I’m doing.

But a couple of weeks ago I started a new job and although it’s only part time, it’s making me quite tired so that I just don’t have the energy to devote to writing as much as before. I’m barely keeping up with the housework/looking after the dog etc. And most evenings now I just want to veg on the sofa in front of the TV (shock, horror).

One of the main reasons I have in my life for taking a step back from things sometimes, not just from writing, is because of a health condition, which I’ve written about before on this blog. I’m not going to go into great detail about it now – maybe in another post – but suffice it to say I have to put my health first before anything else, and I mean anything!

So yes, my writing is suffering a bit. I have managed to do a few sessions on it this week but not as much as I would have liked. I would like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who commented on my previous post with their thoughts on book promotion and generally making my books more visible. You’re stars, you really are and that was some great advice, which I promise you I’ll put into practice when I’m not feeling quite so knackered!

I’m sure what I’m going through as far as tiredness goes is completely normal when it comes to starting a new job. And my health condition does make it worse – I generally tire easily. Hence not doing things like NaNo – I simply wouldn’t be able to keep up. But I’m hoping that after a while I’ll get used to the routine of this new job and be able to incorporate working on my writing into that routine.

I feel a bit frustrated about it as I’d really like to be doing more with my writing as well as promoting my two novels which are already published. But I know I need to give myself time to adjust. (It doesn’t help that at the moment I’m fighting off a virus too! :( )

So what do you do when you’re busy and you’re feeling too tired to write? Do you soldier on anyway or do you cut back the hours you spend on it?

Advice needed

OK guys I really need some advice here. As many of you will be aware, I’ve self-published two novels, The Inheritance and Reunion of the Heart, on Amazon Kindle within about a year of each other (September 2013, August 2014).

The thing is neither of them have taken off – I mean AT ALL – and I’m feeling really low about it. I will admit that I haven’t done a huge amount of promotion for either and I guess you would all say that that is why they haven’t sold much.

But here’s the thing: I’m not entirely convinced about the positive impact of lots of (and sometimes costly) promotion. I’m not convinced that putting them on a number of different promo sites would make a massive amount of difference. Or tweeting about them. Or Facebooking etc.

About a year ago I put The Inheritance on a free promotion. I got nearly 9500 downloads. But I was really disappointed that it didn’t translate into sales. I think part of the problem was that around that time Amazon stopped promoting free books hence my struggle to get more sales afterwards.

So anyway last weekend I decided to do an experiment and put The Inheritance on sale at 99c. I thought maybe I might get a few more sales. I did tweet about it but so far nothing.

I’ve read some ebooks about getting to know how Amazon and its algorithms work and how to use that to my advantage. I’ve tried changing some of the keywords on Reunion of the Heart but that hasn’t seemed to make any difference either.

Some of these books have also suggested various ways to promote your novel strategically, things like setting up a mailing list. But would these work or affect my sales if I haven’t got a book coming out soon? I would also struggle with setting up a mailing list as I haven’t got a clue how it’s done!

I feel frustrated because I think (maybe erroneously!) that my books are as good as many other people’s that are out there and doing OK for themselves. The main problem is that no one knows they’re there. Also, as my husband has pointed out, I write in a broad genre (i.e. contemporary romance) and so it’s hard to target my potential audience with things like good keywords because there are so many titles out there.

Argh! Anyway, I feel like I need to create a good strategy, a plan to give my books a bit of a kick start so that I can somehow let people know that they’re out there and are worth a read. But I don’t know where to start. I’m also tired from my new day job (which is great BTW – I can be thankful for that at least!) and I don’t want to take on too much extra work at the moment.

Any suggestions? Or anyone going through a similar experience?

*I should add that I’ve heard from a writer friend that ebook sales (particularly in the UK) are down which I guess doesn’t help!

I START MY NEW JOB TOMORROW!! (and here’s my WIPpet for Wednesday)

Yes I am indeed starting a new job tomorrow which is why this post is late and short (but hopefully sweet!). I’ve been doing all my washing and other house jobs today because I won’t have time tomorrow or Friday as I’ll be working all day. :)

(Great excuse not to do housework hee hee!) I should add that I might not get around to commenting on many WIPpets this week because of said job. My apologies. Anyway as I said today’s WIPpet is a short one because of the time thing. So using my incredible powers with mathematics, you get 2 sentences: 1 + 1 for the month of November. :)

I’m not going to say much about it except that it’s from Teaching Mr Leavis again (which I’m hacking to pieces editing at the moment) and it’s taken from the first chapter. Here you go:

Rebecca heard a snap – probably the man closing his phone – and began to walk around the corner to get her bike. She collided with a solid, muscular chest and nearly fell over before strong arms caught her and lifted her upright again.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘Ooh that’s something I’d like to take part in’, it’s easy. Just post on your blog an excerpt of what you’ve been working on lately writing-wise. Ideally it should relate in some way to the date. Then add your details to this linky thingy here. Don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ contributions.

Thanks to the fantabulous K. L. Schwengel for hosting once more.