Monday, 20 May 2019

Writing and Gardening - A Healthy Combination...

The novel continues to progress. I hit a slight blip in the last chapter but I worked out what it was missing and am now onto the next chapter.

I've booked to go to this year's RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) Conference in July.

This year I've been trying to reduce the stresses that get to me. After a very bad day a few weeks ago my distress was eventually eased with a quiet walk by the nearby stream absorbing the quiet and the sights and sounds of nature, while the trees muffled the background noise of constant traffic.

This year I've also decided to grow more in the garden and in tubs on the patio. We've always grown various types of fruit: rhubarb, gooseberries, blackberries  and red currants.

Gooseberries
and Lemon Balm...
I used to have a small greenhouse but that had to go to be replaced by a shed, so space for sowing seeds became non-existent.

Over the warm Easter weekend I began the sowing and planting, Lettuce that you can cut leaves off and leave to regrow, Marigolds and Sage. I'm also trying to grow potatoes as a first time experiment.

I recently bought a Lupin plant locally and transplanted it into a bigger pot. It has a couple of flowers that are opening and providing a burst of colour.

Lupins...

The bees seem to like the Lupins...

After an unexpected passing visit from a Pheasant back in April we've become used to seeing and hearing the sounds of Mallard ducks.

While I was outside taking these photos I could hear the quaking and thought a duck was in the garden next door.

Then I saw the female duck tucking into the bird food under our hawthorn tree and quietly began to move back toward the house.

When I stood up and looked over the top of the clothesline full of drying towels I saw the male duck watching me.

I quickly took a picture and a moment later he took off and joined his mate at the food stop.

Ready for Take-Off...
It's fun to look out the kitchen window and see the ducks waddling around or settled down to a synchronised snooze, each with their beak tucked under a wing.

Some days they lurk for hours, others it's a swift take-away visit.

With the bench in the shade of the old rose bush it's relaxing to sit outside with a book and a mug of coffee even for a short time before returning to normality.

Do you get any unexpected wildlife visiting you?





Sunday, 28 April 2019

To Prologue or Not...

After taking a break over Easter to start sowing vegetable and herb seeds in pots and tubs, I'm getting back to the novel.

Moving to Scrivener was definitely a good move, I can concentrate much better using it.

I'm working my way through writing the new scenes (missing from draft one) and am now finding a few of those original scenes in draft one have changed, moved or are no longer needed.

I even have a scene that I thought I'd put in the first draft but hadn't!

On Friday I got together with a couple of fellow romance writers and shared my concerns over how I deal with a particular piece of important information, currently in the second chapter, that still comes over as an info-dump.

Working it out...
While a small part can be slipped in naturally in conversation (where it is now) I need to remove the rest but find some way to show the really important part. As the rewriting has progressed it still can't be worked in elsewhere.

(It has to be dealt with in the third draft...)

So I decided the only way to overcome the problem was to create a short prologue.

Prologues are like Marmite, love them or hate them.

I don't mind them if they are used for a valid reason, but did wonder if my decision for it was reason enough.

So I did some Googling and came across two articles that discuss the do's and don'ts of prologues. First there's a post from the Writers Digest and the Writers & Artists website...

Having had a couple more days to consider the possibilities, I'm sure it's right for the story, as the consequences of that moment will lead to incidents that bring my hero and heroine into contact and eventually together...

By the time I'm ready to go back and finalise the first couple of chapters (I'm not totally happy with them yet) I'll be ready to write that prologue.

Now over to you; what's your view on prologues?





Image by Geralt from Pixabay.com

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Multi-tasking...

Are you a multi-tasking writer?

Although I'm concentrating on my novel at the moment I'm thinking about two other projects in-between all the home-life.

More than one
direction...
I've started thinking about a research trip sometime in 2020 for the next novel in the queue, whilst a scene idea for another novel (further down the queue) popped into my mind while I was out in the sunshine.

Maybe it's Spring that has been the inspiration...

Having got over the recent bug that stuffed up my sinuses and then moved to a bad cough, I've also been running errands for a close relative who's recovering from major surgery so I've not been at the work in progress as much as usual, so that's probably why my brain has allowed me to think about two of my other future projects.

I found this article, How Many Books Should You Write at Once? by author Debbie Young, interesting. There was such variation in the answers each writer gave her.

A couple of years ago I did try doing two novel drafts but it didn't work for me; I needed to concentrate on one at a time. But I did then complete two first drafts one after the other...

I am a slow writer, but Scrivener has definitely helped me make better progress now I'm used to it. I know where I'm going with the current rewriting and new scenes so I'm not stopping and starting when I'm writing, like I used to.

Thinking time.
I've discovered I need to do this at the end of the writing day before the next new scene is written- which surprised me as I thought I had it worked out in my head already, but it does help.

(It may just be this particular story, but I'll be prepared and allow extra time for it with the next book.)

So do you write more than one book at a time? Or a mix of books, short stories, articles or other writing?




image from Pixabay.com


























Sunday, 24 March 2019

How Much Will You Pay for an E-book?

Now I know that authors who are traditionally published have no say on what price the e-book of their novels is sold at. Of course there will be price promotions where readers can buy the e-book for 99 pence for a limited time.

Whereas with self-published e-books the price can vary, though I've heard £2.99 is the ideal price- maybe is is and maybe it isn't?

Of course there's always a selection at 99 pence; but just because they're a low price that doesn't necessarily reflect badly on their quality.

As writers we know the same amount of work has gone into the writing and production of the book whether it's on paper or a digital file.

But as a reader, what price is too high for you to buy an e-book?

Unlike a print book, an e-book- a digital file (while it can last for as long as the technology exists to read it and is available) is more like a rental with no defined end date.
Print or E-book
for the cost?

Plus e-books prices include VAT.

The provider can modify or remove an e-book, likewise if
an online provider has closed a person's account for some reason, the reader will lose access to those e-books they've purchased.

(So if you've got a favourite book it's always a good idea to get a print copy too.)

So back to price.

I recently saw a new  release by one of my many favourite writers (a hybrid author). I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the story having read the blurb, so downloaded the sample. At this point the price was still £3+.

It was a couple of days before I read the sample and decided okay, it has potential I'll buy the e-book. But when I went to Amazon the new release price had gone up to £5+ and I decided no it wasn't worth it at that price...

That response surprised me.

It may just be that I wasn't so intrigued that I just had to read more instantly. Perhaps the author has just lost their edge, that sparkle that would have once guaranteed an immediate buy.

This time it was the price that made the difference between me saying okay I'll buy it- even if it seems not to be as good as previous novels. To saying no, it's not worth it at that price. I probably would have bought it at the £3+ price.

There are a few e-books that I've bought at the £5+ range, but generally I'd opt for a paperback version, as sometimes it can be better value.

I realised that for me, quality + price = value = buy.

So a couple of questions to you as a reader, rather than a writer.

Do you have a maximum price bar when buying e-books?

Or does it depend upon the particular e-book, author or some other combination?

I'm looking forward to reading your responses...




Image from Pixabay.com








Monday, 18 March 2019

Learning via an Online Conference...

Haven't we all at some time wanted to go to a major book related event but distance or personal circumstances mean you can't?

Recently the London Book Fair (LBF) took place and it was good to see pictures from writers who were attending.

It also means that the Alliance of Independent Authors will be holding their spring online conference.

This past weekend it was #SelfPubCon2019 and I spent much of Saturday at my computer with my earphones on and my notebook and pen to hand.
(Having previously signed up to the conference (free), but it could be signed up to that day.)

Online learning...

There were links to the various sessions (24 of them) some were panels recorded live at the LBF earlier this month, others were audio presentations or with video on YouTube.

You'll find links to the various sessions on the ALLi Facebook page and Twitter account, but they'll only be available publicly for a short time.

There were some valuable insights into marketing, being more productive and especially interesting were the Going Wide sessions- there's value in the global market. Lots of opportunities for the self-published writers.

I spent Sunday morning catching up on the sessions that were released overnight in the UK.

For anyone who is or intends to self-publish it is worth looking at membership of ALLi.

It's on my to do list before I publish my novel.

Meanwhile there's just one more session to catch up on; spreadsheets...author data...

Have you taken part in an online conference before? If you have, what were the high points for you? If you haven't, what discourages you?








Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The Joy of Progress...

March already and I'm finally making progress on the new scenes in the second draft of the novel.

Back in January I was a bit concerned that my heroine wasn't as three-dimensional as my hero, but as I've added the missing scenes and shifted the position of others she's finally started to fill out the gaps.

I'm definitely going to have to make her a few years older than I originally imagined her, so I'm going to look at my backstory and timelines.

As to Scrivener I'm definitely feeling more confident about writing with it and using a different font has helped- I'm more aware of the words filling the page too, but that's helping not hindering.

Today I finished chapter 11, all new scenes and conflicts both internal/external. I also realised how two-faced the antagonist is...

Last month I was not feeling as confident about how the draft was going and I was doubting my ability all round- impostor syndrome!?

There's still a lot of work to do, but I'm not going to give up.

There's still about ten days of my Scrivener trial left and I will probably go ahead and purchase it...

This year...


image:pixabay.com






Sunday, 24 February 2019

Guest Q&A: Alex Gazzola...

Today I'm delighted to be welcoming journalist, author and writing tutor Alex Gazzola to Carol's Corner to answer a few questions on his writing and books.
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Alex Gazzola
Welcome to my blog, Alex.

Q1. Readers may only associate you with your Mistakes Writers Make books and the blog of the same name, but there's another side to your non-fiction work that some readers may be unaware of. Please tell us more.

The Mistakes Writers Make work stems from my long period working as a non-fiction writing tutor for the Writers Bureau. I was giving so much advice to my hundreds of students that it seemed a shame not to rework some of that material into a blog and share it more widely to budding writers looking for guidance. But I started out as a writer of all sorts of non-fiction, before beginning to specialise in health and nutrition, and then narrowing my specialism further by focusing on allergies, intolerances and gut health.

Allergies and sensitivities interest me because so many people have them, and quite a few struggle to get a diagnosis, and to avoid exposure to their triggers. There are all sorts of very unusual reactions to hundreds of different ingredients – be they in food, cosmetics or household chemicals – and there is I think a shortage of information for those who deal with them.

I write for a few specialist publications, such as allergy websites and charity newsletters, but also post a lot on my own website, Allergy Insight (www.allergy-insight.com). I’ve also written several books – on coeliac disease and IBS, for instance.

Q2. You've recently updated and self-published in paperback through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) your 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make and 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make. What challenges were there in updating and self-publishing the books that you hadn't anticipated?


#Book 1

#Book 2
Actually, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. KDP accepts documents in Word, which I’m very comfortable with, so there wasn’t too much trouble on that front. I think the only thing which was a bit fiddly was setting page numbering – it’s not always easy to format it as you want it or have the numbering start where you wish. The text I worked with was originally formatted for Kindle ebooks, so it required a little editing – for instance, removing the hyperlinks.
I had to write an index for each book’s print version, which took some time, but I’d always compiled my own indexes before, so again that was fine.

One problem was that I couldn’t find a way to use exactly the same cover image for both ebook and print book, so they’re slightly different, and I’m not fully satisfied with that, or with the designs. When I have more time I may try to improve on them.

Q3. Are there more books planned for this year – either writing or allergy related?

Yes, both. I’m working on the third book in the Mistakes Writers Make series, 50 Mistakes Writers Make, which is aimed at a more ‘intermediate’ level of non-fiction writer, who has perhaps read the first two and has had some success, but would now like a lot more! I might do a fourth, but I actually have other ideas for writing books which I’m more keen to pursue, and I’d like to update my Writing Your Non-Fiction Book ebook too.

As for allergy books, yes, I have lots of other ideas. I might do a book on understanding food and cosmetic ingredients and labels for people with allergies. I’m also interested in nickel allergy, which many women have, so I think a book on that is needed.

Q4. What essential piece of advice would you give to a writer who was considering writing a non-fiction book?

Whether you’re going the self-published route or via conventional publishing, you need a good idea. If it’s a niche subject but you’re sure there’s a dearth of information on it, then I would look at self-publishing. My latest book, on an allergy to a cosmetic preservative commonly called MI, has sold over 200 copies in just a few weeks – and I think it’s because there is no other book available on it. I’d say look for something unusual which you find interesting. If you think it’s more commercial, propose it to a mainstream publisher.

Either way, be aware that writing a book is a big job, that there is lots of research involved, but don’t be afraid of it. Break it down. Think of each chapter as a long article, perhaps. Also don’t feel obliged to start at the beginning. Knowing you have 30,000 words (or whatever) to write can cause you to freeze. Start in the middle if you like. Or write an ‘easy’ bit.

For my first book, I started by compiling some useful resources, I wrote the conclusion, I wrote the introduction, and a few other random odds and ends, before eventually pulling them together into what turned out to be the book. If the word ‘book’ or even ‘manuscript’ intimidates you, then just think ‘articles’, or ‘text’, or ‘bits of writing’ or whatever it takes … You can do it!


Alex's Mistakes Writers Make book series are also available as e-books...

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Thank you Alex. I'm sure you'll have inspired more writers to start that non-fiction book they've thought about but never taken the next step...

It was Alex who encouraged me to approach the editor of Writing Magazine last year which led to my Womag Rights article appearing a few weeks later in the September issue.

On the 1st March over on Patsy Collins' blog Words about writing and writing about words, Alex's answers to the questions from a blog post earlier in February will be posted (the post a question option is now closed, but you will be able to read his answers on Friday).

Comments on my blog posts are always welcome...











Monday, 11 February 2019

Scrivener: My Progress So Far...

Last month I downloaded Scrivener.

I was warned it is a steep learning curve but taking the time to watch the videos and work through the tutorial is definitely worth doing. The basics start to stick- well some of them!

So far I've written chapter 10 on it. Admittedly it's a short chapter and was originally in chapter 9...

The issues so far have been remembering where certain things are, but that's probably more to do with having used Word for so many years.

Then there's how to delete something in the side bar that's wrong- it must be in the settings somewhere.

The Manual which you just click on- good- has a well set out index- also good- but sometimes it's hard to find the simple things, almost as if it makes the assumption that it's so obvious it doesn't need more detailed explanation (of course it may just be me).

Writing in a different font has definitely helped and my short chapter 10 didn't seem to take as long to type out (considering I can't touch type) but I was keeping the format simple.

I liked being able to switch to the cork board easily and back to the text without having to worry about losing anything meanwhile. Though I do think I'm going to need to watch the video on the cork board section again as I think I'm missing a stage somewhere.

Undecided...
I've still got trial days left and I'm now 50/50 about whether I will go on to purchase Scrivener or not.

Suspect how well I get on with the next two chapters will be the deciding factor...







image from pixabay.com

Thursday, 31 January 2019

The All Rights Issue is Spreading...

Just want to point everyone in the direction of the Womagwriter blog where further bad news on all rights fiction contracts have now spread to monthly magazine Spirit & Destiny.

The magazine was seen as a new market for short story writers even though it was only one story a month and obviously needed stories that would fit the magazine's profile.

I usually read the magazine on Readly and it's always good to see a story by writers I know. I doubt I will continue to read it now they're requiring all rights for their fiction.

More worrying for writers is that the magazine is a Bauer publication. They also produce Take A Break Fiction Feast; although that is a closed list so writers who aren't on the list can't submit anyway, but the implications, for those writers who are, is worrying.

When I wrote my article for Writing Magazine last summer (around the all rights situation at Woman's Weekly) I mentioned the potential for the other magazines to also move to an all rights contract.

Last year's
All Rights issue
I hoped I was wrong.

People's Friend have not gone the all rights route and are consequently receiving even more submissions, with writers waiting longer than before to hear the outcome for their stories.

So many newer writers cut their teeth on the womag fiction market and years later move on to writing novels for mainstream publishers.

If Bauer extend the all rights contract to their TAB Fiction Feast magazine I think a number of womag writers will stop submitting.

If that happens it won't just be the writers losing out...




Monday, 21 January 2019

Scrivener, Word or Open Office?

I decided I'd try out Scrivener to see if it would help me get my manuscript done.

There's a 30 day free trial and the days only count down every day you use it, so if you only open it a couple of days a week the free trial will last longer than a month.

When the trial is up you either purchase it or remove it.

Friends do say it is a learning curve but there's lots of helpful info available: YouTube videos, a user manual within the programme and instructional videos. Then there's Anne Rainbow's ScrivenerVirgin site.

At the moment it's all making my head spin...

Which programme?


I can import a Word document, but apparently Tabs are not good and muck up the formatting later.

Since Word 2007 no longer has technical support- no updates- I've found it creating glitches in my formatting of documents and I've had to use the tab key more.

I'd considered Office 365, but apart from having to pay monthly or annually, the version of Word would not read my much earlier documents; as I understood the info it would remove my 2007 version during the download.

I bought the Office 2007 disc when I purchased my previous computer and then had to reinstall Office 2007 when a Microsoft update created major issues with my current desktop (resulting in it having to be wiped) I am now on my third and final use of 2007.

I've downloaded Open Office and found it useful for a number of things, but I wasn't comfortable with it for the novel. So I've persevered with Word.

Now I'm trialing Scrivener.

As I'm mid-rewrite of Chapter 9 in Word 2007 I've decided to start Chapter 10 in Scrivener and see how it goes. If it works for me and I buy it, I can sort out the earlier chapters in Word and then import them in.

I like the ability to make your own templates so you can use them with every novel or use the pre-existing templates.

Like any new programme it's as much about learning where things are and how to use it.

The biggest advantage is being able to prepare the finished novel for being an e-book, in ePub for example. (Of course you still need an editor.)

Today I set up the title and the chapters, then tomorrow I'll try the cork-board bit...

I must admit that the last time I looked at Scrivener (about four years ago) I didn't like it, it confused me, but now I'm at a stage with my writing where it makes sense and I can see how helpful it could be.

Are you a Scrivener convert or a Word or Open Office user?








Sunday, 6 January 2019

Starting the Year Positively...

Did you have a good New Year? I spent it very quietly at home...

I'm very happy to say that I've started 2019 well as I've already fulfilled one of my plans for this year.

As my computer time clock went from 11.59 to 12.00 on the 2nd January, I pressed send on my prepared email and crossed my fingers that I'd get a place on the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme.

A little later I received the email confirming a place. My paperwork and payment were done the next day and confirmed, so I'm now official...

I have until the end of August to get my manuscript in for critiquing, but I don't want to leave it to then.

I know it may seem strange joining a new writers' scheme when I'm not actually a new writer.

Although I've won the NWC Mary Street Memorial Shield three times now, each of those entries have only been a synopsis and the first three chapters of a romance novel- each one set in a different time period to the others!

But it's a big difference between producing a complete novel and just a part of it, which is why the RNA's scheme is an important step.

Despite all the good things that happened last year there was also a lot of stressful things going on in the background and I lost six months not being able to work on the novel as intensively as I'd intended.

Perseverance is the word to remember when your writing plans go askew and that's what I've been doing. I took the time to consider my options and take a new route to my destination...

There's going to have to be a few other changes to my commitments, though they will be phased in.

I may even do short updates on my progress as the six months pass...

Another day to write approaches...


Image: pixabay.com