The Versatile Blogger and The Real Neat Blog awards

20150418-the-real-neat-blog-award

I’ve been nominated by the lovely Melissa for these two blogging awards: The Real Neat Blog Award and The Versatile Blogger award. She’s asked me to answer 7 questions. I’m really meant to nominate others for the award and give them questions too, but I just haven’t got the time or the energy at the mo (new job and all that) so it’s just my answers here. Anyway, here goes:

1. Who is your favourite author or what is your favourite book? My favourite author is Jane Austen and my favourite book is by her: Pride and Prejudice. 🙂

2. If you had a super power what would it be? To travel back in time. I really wish I could see what life was like in the past, even the not too distant past.

3. If you could produce a movie which one would you choose? I don’t know about producing a movie – if I imagine myself as a filmmaker, it’s more as a director. So I guess maybe I would direct something like The Hunger Games trilogy, or if I was feeling a bit more arty, maybe a film like Black Swan.

4. How has WordPress helped you to become a better writer? It’s helped me enormously by allowing me to connect with other indie authors around the world and their help and support of me in this writing process has been immeasurable.

5. What fun thing do you do to keep yourself from burning out? I read, watch TV, socialise with friends, walk the dog. Things like that. 🙂

6. When you were a child, what did you want to become? When I was about 5 I wanted to be a nurse. That didn’t last very long! Then when I was about 11 I longed to be an actress. That lasted a bit longer but of course I didn’t become that either!

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go? I would want to live in San Francisco or somewhere else nearby in California. I’ve always wanted to go to California, but I never have. It looks so beautiful and I’ve heard the climate is so mild and balanced it sounds lovely.

Thanks Melissa for some great questions. I’ve enjoyed answering them. And thank you too for nominating me for these awards. 😀

versatile-blogger

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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?

Confession

ConfessionI have a confession to make.  You know how on social media, blogs and writers’ blogs in particular we’re often told that a success for one indie author is a success for us all?  Well sometimes I find it really hard.

I find it hard to swallow that while my novel is languishing at the bottom of the Amazon rankings (well it feels like it anyway!), Mr or Ms Successful Indie Author has sold millions of copies of their novel and is doing very nicely thank you.

As a Christian, I know I need to take a step back from myself and not ‘covet my neighbour’s success in writing’!  And I’m trying, really I am. But sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow when I read about so and so’s book doing fabulously while mine… well, isn’t.

See the thing is, like most if not all indie authors, I’ve put the hours in; I’ve worked hard to write and then publish a novel, done a blog tour, updated my blog regularly, tweeted, posted on Facebook etc etc.

I do realise it doesn’t necessarily work that way – I may have worked hard but perhaps my book just isn’t quite what people were interested in reading.  But I feel I’m not quite at the point where I can truly be glad for others’ success.  I’m trying hard but I’m not quite there yet.

I guess it’s a lot like life in general – for most of us there’s always gonna be people who’re more successful than us, have a better job, bigger house, more expensive car etc.

I find it helps me to remember what the Bible teaches – that ultimately these things don’t matter.  What’s important is not how successful we are materially but how we live our lives.

When I consider this life and all the things (i.e. possessions) we hold dear, I often think of the ancient Egyptians and the way they painstakingly filled the tombs of their Pharaohs with their most treasured possessions, much of it still priceless today, in order that the Pharaoh would take it with him to the afterlife.

Because ultimately it’s the same with us: the success we have materially in this life and all our possessions aren’t going to go with us when we die.  So what’s the use wasting precious time getting hung up on so and so succeeding more at something than me?

I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to read about a fellow author’s success without feeling a pang of envy, and be truly glad for them.

Am I the only one who struggles to be gracious when faced with others’ success being greater than mine?

Indie Author Manifesto

Indie author manifesto

THE INDIE AUTHOR MANIFESTO by Mark Coker @ Smashwords

I thought I’d share this with you as for me it sums up everything that defines an indie author.  I hope you agree! 😀