Changing tack

Changing tack

Another short(ish) post. I thought I’d update you with how things are for me right now writing-wise. Well I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and having plenty of heart to hearts with my husband about my writing.

And I’ve been thinking: what do I really want most – to write whatever I want, or to write the books that people want to read? See, I think it’s like this: different people may like different genres of books BUT most people also like reading what they’re used to.

So if someone likes, say, sci-fi, they will usually want to read a novel that is recognisibly that: sci-fi. Similarly romance, or a thriller or a detective story. People like what they like – it may sound trite or like a sweeping statement (which, yes, it could be seen as) but I think it’s very often true.

Now with me it’s like this: I enjoy writing (obviously!) and for a while now I’ve been struggling with being torn between writing whichever story idea comes into my head, or writing for a particular genre and thereby gaining more readers. The thing is I don’t want to write like a fraud – I want to write authentically – to be true to myself and my writing style.

As I said to my husband – you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Like the rest of my life, with my writing I can’t be something I’m not. But I need to do something radical. I’ll be honest – my sales have hit rock bottom and yeah I’m really gutted about that.

So at my husband’s suggestion (and this idea has grown and grown on me) I’m gonna try something new. I’m going to write a short(ish) story, maybe a novella, and I’m going to pick a genre and aim my story fairly and squarely at that. It’s going to be a romance, still working on the details and I’m not gonna give too much away, but let’s just say I’m hoping that by aiming at a particular sub-genre of romance, I may be able to do a bit better.

It’s gonna be a bit of an experiment and it may not work, but my hope is that I can get my writing noticed a bit more and who knows – I might have people read this new story and think ‘I wouldn’t mind reading another of Elaine Jeremiah’s novels’, thereby increasing my sales.

It’s a gamble, but hey I’ve got nothing to lose! I do think it’s a bad time for all indie authors at the mo what with Kindle Unlimited being introduced and all that, but quite frankly I’m going to keep persevering with my writing until there’s no breath left in my body! So I’m going to be a bit more calculating in my approach – and write what (I hope) people will really want to read.

Have you ever reached a point in your writing journey where you decided you needed to change tack? How is it panning out for you?

Another call for beta readers

Well I’ve reached another milestone – I’ve ‘finished’ my third novel Teaching Mr Leavis and I need some beta readers to take a look at it for me.

The reason for the inverted commas is that I feel there’s still a long way to go before I publish it. Yes, I know that’s what beta readers are for, to help you get to the stage where it’s ready, but to me it’s a lot less ready than my previous novel Reunion of the Heart was when I sent it to beta readers.

So that you know a bit about it, Teaching Mr Leavis is a romance set 20 years ago in a fictitious English city. The heroine is a newly qualified teacher who’s just started teaching at a secondary school (for 11 to 16 year olds in case you’re unfamiliar with the British education system!).

I deliberately set it 20 years ago because that was when I was at secondary school and I felt I just don’t know enough about schools today to set it in the present. Technology especially has changed and I wanted it to be authentic, so I thought it would be better set in the time that I remember.

Anyway I just want to add that this version of Teaching Mr Leavis that I’ll send out is very much in the early stages. I’m sure there’s a whole lot that whoever’s reading it will want to comment on and suggest improvements on. It’s not long, less than 60,000 words, but there is a lot that needs work on. I just need some advice and I’ve got to the point where I feel I can’t do much more on it on my own without some other people’s suggestions.

Thank you for reading this and if you’re interested, I look forward to hearing from you.

My email address should you wish to get in contact is: elaine (dot) jeremiah (at) gmail (dot) com

Thanks for your time! :)

From where we left off

Another short post from me this week as the job’s still tiring me and I have less time. I may not be able to take part in WIPpet Wednesday for a while – definitely not next week anyway as my work days are changing and I’m gonna be working on Wednesday next week.

As with last week, I will comment on as many of all your lovely posts as I can. Thank you all for your comments re marketing last week – at the very least it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with it.

I’m doing OK with my editing of Teaching Mr Leavis, my current WIP – or rather a rewrite. I just have a thought about it: I’ve had some comments from people along the lines that Jonathan, the antihero hero of the story is quite domineering. And yes to a certain extent he’s meant to be. But at the same time I want my heroine Rebecca to come across as strong enough to stand up to him.

Maybe I’m not making her as strong a character as she could be, especially when it comes to her interaction with Jonathan and I do want her to be tough in her relationship with him. Any thoughts on this appreciated!

So on to the main event: the excerpt I’m sharing is from Teaching Mr Leavis again and takes place a few paragraphs on from last week’s excerpt. Rebecca is surprised and shocked to see Jonathan, who she recently split up with, at her dad’s party. Now she’s talking to her sister Maria and their brother’s partner Linda. Rebecca is none too pleased with the direction that conversation is taking…

I’m sharing 16 lines, my rubbish maths goes like this: 14 for the day + 2 from 2015!

Linda nudged Rebecca’s arm. ‘Mr Leavis looks a bit stranded. Maybe one of us should go and talk to him?’

Rebecca started involuntarily. Maria’s lips twitched. ‘Perhaps you should go and talk to him, Rebecca? After all, you know him already,’ she said.

Rebecca’s mouth fell open and she glared at her sister. What was she thinking?

‘You do?’ Linda asked.

‘Yes.’ Rebecca said through gritted teeth. Looking at her sister, she could tell that Maria wasn’t about to let this drop; she was enjoying herself too much. ‘All right, I’ll go and say hi.’

Rebecca had never been more reluctant to do anything before in her life, as she tottered in her high heels over to where Jonathan was standing, looking dapper in a chic evening suit and tapping the stem of his champagne glass. But her reluctance faded a little as she saw his face light up when he saw her, clearly relieved to have someone he knew to talk to.

‘Hi, Jonathan,’ she said in a low voice.

And that’s all you’re getting for now. If you’re reading this and thinking ‘this is something I’d like to get involved with’, then it’s easy. Just post on your blog an excerpt of whatever you’re writing at the moment, then add your details here. Don’t forget to check out what the other wonderful WIPpeteers have shared.

Thank you K. L. Schwengel as always for hosting. :D

It’s been a while…

Hi all. Happy New Year! How are you doing? I feel like I’ve been away for quite some time. I guess I have. But I’ve had my reasons – namely work. I started a new job and although it’s going well, it’s meant that I haven’t had a lot of energy for much else.

Anyway I’m gradually getting used to my new routine and today I thought I’d join in WIPpet Wednesday again. My poor blog has barely seen the light of day for ages and now is as good a time as any to update it and also read all your lovely contributions for WIPpet Wednesday again.

I’m getting on quite well with my editing/rewriting of Teaching Mr Leavis. And I’m enjoying it, so that’s a plus! The flip side of the coin is that I haven’t touched the marketing side of my life as an indie author for months! It’s just gone out the window and I’m feeling quite guilty about that! I’ve had a lot on my mind but also I’m not sure of the best, most cost effective way to go about it. I need a plan of action, some simple steps I could take to promote my books without it being too time consuming. Any ideas?

I realise that marketing requires a certain amount of work, time and dedication – which I’m simply not giving at the moment. I also realise that my books aren’t going to sell unless I do something about it and I’m feeling low in terms of morale where my books sales are concerned, so it’s a bit of a vicious circle.

However, I feel that with ebooks it’s not a race against time to sell them before they’re pulled off the shelves – there’re gonna be there forever in virtual form unless I choose to take them off Amazon. So I’ve got plenty of time to devise a marketing plan and do something about it.

There is another aspect to all of this which you’ve probably heard about – that ebook sales are plummeting. Which obviously doesn’t help any of us indie authors, especially those of us (like me!) who don’t have any print copies of their books. I want to use Create Space soon to do some print copies of Reunion of the Heart. So watch this space! (no pun intended! ;) )

Having said all that, I am still enjoying writing, which is the main thing. There’s nothing in this world that is going to make me stop writing or persevering to (eventually) have some success with it all. I may never get there – but it won’t be because I haven’t tried. I’m just having, as my grandma would have put it, a blip!

OK, I didn’t really intend to do a long spiel about my current writing situation! So onto the main event – my contribution to this week’s WIPpet Wednesday: another excerpt from Teaching Mr Leavis. This is a new part I’ve added; it takes place towards the end of the story. Rebecca is at a party celebrating 25 years of her father’s business. She and Jonathan have been up down in their relationship. Currently they’re apart so she’s surprised and shocked to see him there. I’m sharing three short paragraphs: 1 for the month + 2 from the year.

She stopped dead when she saw the figure of a tall man standing in the group of people with her mother. He appeared to be engaged in conversation with her father. The man had his back to her. It couldn’t be, could it? Her face hot, she swallowed and walked determinedly towards the group.

As she approached, the group turned around as one and looked at her, including the tall man. It was indeed Jonathan Leavis, looking as handsome as ever. She saw that his expression was surprised as he gazed at her, his eyebrows raised. Their eyes meeting for a moment, Rebecca turned away from his stare, willing herself to ignore him.

What the hell was he doing here, she wondered, deep in conversation with her parents no less? This unanswered question goaded her as she walked up to her parents and gave each of them a brief hug.

I will visit and comment on as many of your posts as I can – but I can’t promise to look at all of them, though I’ll do my best!

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, it’s easy. Just post on your blog an excerpt of your latest writing work. It should ideally relate in some way to the date. Then add your name to this. Don’t forget to check out all the other WIPpeteers’ offerings.

Big hugs to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. ;)

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?

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

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.