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?

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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. 😀

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?

Sort of finished – WIPpet Wednesday

wippetwednesday

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, that time of the week when we WIPpeteers share some of what we’ve been working on writing-wise lately.

As the title of this blog post suggests I’ve finished the first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis. Yay! you might say – I’m sort of yay but not quite because now comes the hard part.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words and ideally I want it to be longer than that. Also it needs a LOT of work on it and when I say a lot, I mean a lot! I need to tighten things up plot wise, develop underused characters, make it more romantic (yes really!) – the list is endless!

So I’ve started going through from the beginning and starting to change things. I want to edit the entire thing myself before anyone else sees it. Then maybe get an alpha reader to look at it. And only after that will I get any beta readers to take a look. Right now I’m feeling like I don’t want anyone to see it in its present state! (WIPpet Wednesday doesn’t count – I can share the better bits with you all for that!!)

Anyway onto what I’m sharing with you today. I’ve decided to share something a bit different. I thought I’d introduce you to Judith, my MC Rebecca’s disapproving mother. Rebecca and her parents – Judith and Martin – don’t see eye to eye. Judith and Martin have always wanted Rebecca to do what they think she should be doing – they don’t approve of her teaching. Rebecca won’t play ball so there’s tension. Lots of it! This scene takes place after Rebecca has had another encounter with Jonathan Leavis. Today Judith is visiting Rebecca in her flat. Rebecca’s preoccupied and things aren’t going well between them…

For today I’m sharing with you 21 sentences. My maths goes like this: 20 + 1 = 21 (I’m cheating again, taking the digits from the year!) Enjoy!

‘So how’s it all going at the school then, Rebecca?’ her mother Judith asked, taking a sip from her bone china cup of tea. It was Saturday afternoon. Rebecca’s mother and father were visiting Stokington for a few days. Maria had point blank refused to let them stay with her again so soon after their previous visit, so Judith and Martin, Rebecca’s father, were staying in a local hotel. Judith was visiting Rebecca while Martin went to explore the Stokington aviation museum, which was on the outskirts of the city.

Rebecca was silent for a moment, pondering her mother’s question. Memories of her encounter with Jonathan Leavis two days ago came flooding back. She felt heat rush to her face and downed the rest of her tea in one go.

‘Are you feeling hot?’ Judith asked. ‘It is a bit warm in here; maybe you should open the window.’

‘No, Mum, it’s all right, I’m sure I’ll cool down in a minute,’ Rebecca replied, her face warm with embarrassment. ‘School’s going well thank you. It’s busy but I’m coping.’

Barely, she added silently. She was feeling the pressure of continuing to prepare her pupils for their exams later in the school year.

Judith nodded. ‘Well you know what your dad and I say. You can always…’

‘Give it up, yes I know,’ Rebecca snapped. ‘But that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to give up after just one term. I know how much you’d love it if I did, but I won’t.’

That’s it from me today. 🙂 If you have any advice re editing/pulling a book apart let me know!

WIPpet Wednesday is open to anyone who’d like to take part. Just share with us on your blog an excerpt from whatever you’ve been working on writing-wise lately. Preferably your excerpt should relate in some way to the date. Then add your name to this linky thing.

Thanks goes to our lovely currently-travelling K. L. Schwengel for hosting.  😀

 

 

 

 

I’ve finished… sort of!

BookThis is just a quick post to say that I’ve finished my first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis, the romance about a school teacher I’ve been writing.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words though, so at the moment although it’s technically classed as a novel, it’s a short one. Now comes the hard part. It needs a heck of a lot of editing, which in a way I’m looking forward to.

I reckon I can significantly increase the word count while at the same time improving on what’s written as I go through the editing process. Why has this story kind of run away from me and made me end at the end at what feels like too soon?

Well maybe it’s because I didn’t stick to my plan enough, that I didn’t make a detailed enough plan and so things just kind of evolved. But it’s definitely been an interesting experience so far. I’ve discovered more about the characters who’ve developed and changed during the course of the story and I’ve been able to take the plot in new and interesting directions.

So anyway I’ve decided that for now no one is going to see this story apart from me. I’m going to go through it and edit it as thoroughly as I can. Then I may well see if I can find an alpha reader to take a look at it and only after that get it beta read. I’m hoping that way I can greatly improve on what I’ve got at the moment.

I do believe it’s a promising story and could be made even better when I’ve gone through and corrected things, developed some of the subsidiary characters more and fleshed out the plot. I have to say I’m actually looking forward to this process. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the end.

What are your current writing projects looking like? Are you in the middle of editing?

A lift home

Hi all. Hope your week’s gone OK so far. I’ve been doing all right. I’ve made some progress with Teaching Mr Leavis  and I’m beginning to have at least a vague sense of where I want the story to go and how it’s going to get there. Thank  you all for your advice re first drafts – it was very helpful to have my instinct to stick with the first draft until I’ve finished it confirmed.

So for today I thought I’d share with you 10 paragraphs for the month from Teaching Mr Leavis. This scene takes place about a page on from where last week’s excerpt finished which you can read here. To see the excerpt before that go here.

In this scene Rebecca has left the club and is making her way home when she hears someone call her name. When she realises who it is her heart sinks…

‘Mr Leavis,’ Rebecca replied, her voice coming out as a groan. She didn’t care if he noticed. He walked up to her until he was standing only a few feet away. The dull orange glow from the streetlamps didn’t give her much light to see by, but nonetheless Rebecca got another good look at Jonathan Leavis.

She had to admit to herself – albeit grudgingly – that he wasn’t a bad-looking man. He was tall and had a good figure. His hair was almost black and, although short, wavy. His striking eyes were the same colour. She surmised that he was in his early forties, though he was one of those people whose age was indeterminate.

He cut a powerful figure, although he seemed a little worse for wear tonight. Maybe it was just the poor light. But he looked almost a little haggard to Rebecca, and she wondered how often he went to his club, how much he’d had to drink.  

A half-smile was on his lips; his expression was friendly enough, but Rebecca really wasn’t in the mood to have a verbal sparring match. Feeling a wave of fatigue hit her again, she cleared her throat and tried not to sound hostile as she spoke.

‘Mr Leavis, what do you want? It’s late, I’m tired and I need to go home.’

‘Would you like me to take you home?’ Jonathan asked her, giving her direct look that made her feel as though he could glimpse her soul.

Rebecca said nothing, just gawped at him. Had she heard him right? Was that really the parent from hell, Jonathan Leavis, asking her if she wanted a lift home? He has been drinking, she reminded herself, shaking her head to try and clear it of confusion.

‘I’ll take that as a no then,’ he said, pursing his lips and beginning to turn away.

Rebecca thought quickly, weighing up the pros and cons. If she went home with Jonathan she’d have to put up with his questions and general talk. Also he would see where she lived, another downside. But if she chose to get a taxi home, she’d have to wait a while for one to turn up – they weren’t all that frequent in this part of town – and it would be expensive.

‘Wait, Jonathan,’ she said, wincing as she realised she’d used his Christian name without meaning to. He turned back; she saw a half-smile creasing his lips and silently berated herself for slipping up. But she swallowed any biting comment she would have liked to make. ‘Yes, I would like a lift home, thank you.’

WIPpet Wednesday is open to everyone who would like to share some of their writing on their blog. If you want to join in, just post some of your recent writing on your blog. Ideally it should relate in some way to the date. Then add your name to this.

K. L. Schwengel is our lovely hostess. 😀