Thoughts on Thursday – So You Want To Be A Writer Part Two

If you missed out on the first part of this new series you can catch it here. I know this should have gone out yesterday but technical problems left me frustrated and on the verge of throwing the computer through the window yesterday lol.

So, you finally have an idea for a story, you sit at the computer and begin writing so far so good but then you find the next thing that people say to you.

Well, anyone can write a book, it’s just words.

Now, to an extent this is true. anyone can write a book but let’s look at what actually goes into writing a book that people really don’t understand. First the time! I don’t know about most of you reading this but my WPM (words per minute) have dropped significantly since I learnt to type at school. On a good day, I can type 250 words every fifteen minutes, that means 1000 words per hour assuming the ideas are flowing and I don’t need to stop to think or consult notes. The average fantasy book is 95,000 – 120,000 words this means to write one book you are looking at 95 – 100 hours. Now, there will be people who will look at that and say, well that’s okay you can write a book a month, and yes if you are lucky enough to be able to stay home and make a living writing you might, but most of us still have day jobs to accommodate to fund our writing. Personally, I am lucky to write 5 – 10 k words per week, that means if nothing else happens to slow me down or distract me that the first draft will take three to four months.

It’s only writing down words in sentences, it can’t be that hard!

Yes, I have actually had that said to me, and to an extent it is true, or should that be it is true for the first draft. What a lot of people fail to realise is just how many different edits you do on books, you don’t just write the perfect book, hit send and it is out there in the world. Generally, I edit a book around four times more in some places if it needs it, there are read throughs checking for continuity, and any holes in the plot, there are general grammar and spelling checks. I also use an automated voice reader programme to let me hear it back with helps me pick on things spell check misses, those silly errors where you type on instead of no.

If you are lucky you can afford to pay proofreaders to pick up on some issues, pay editors to fix them, oh, and remember to check what your editor offers, because you may need to hire more than one. If one only does general edits then you need a second to do line edits.  Now, if like me you don’t make enough to pay for all these things, then there is help out there. I use the free version of Grammarly to pick up on some of my mistakes but be advised that it often wants to change things that you want to write for creative effect. Use the word checker on your computer and check the settings to see what you can turn on to help you.

All these edits take time so the chances are if you are doing it all yourself you will be doing well to get out one or two books a year, if you have editors you can maybe get a couple more out, but just words, I don’t think so.

Next week we will look at what happens once, you have a story more or less ready to go.

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What’s going on!

Okay let’s talk honestly, the issues over the last couple of weeks have been two-fold, first, the computer failed, then secondly I failed at life, well not really it just feels that way.

The computer did an update which because of my poor internet connection failed to instal properly, the end result was I had to wipe everything, reinstall windows, then find all the various apps I use and reinstall them. Of course, this also meant trawling through emails to find the registration codes for paid upgrades and apps, mental note to self, put them all in one folder next time! It has taken two weeks so far and I am still finding annoying little things that are missing or that I need to tweak but finally I can get back to actually doing some productive work.

Now the hard bit to talk about, life! I have mentioned before that the monster has had a few issues, but I have really not talked about how hard it is to see your son hurting and not be able to fix it. We have been on a waiting list for over two and a half years for my son to be tested for Autism, everyone who spends any time with him agrees he is on the spectrum, where or whether there is a specific category he will fit into we do not yet know. It has also been suggested that if he is not actually autistic his issues may result from lasting brain damage from the meningitis that nearly took his life when he was seven and a half. As he gets older and more is expected of him he is finding it increasingly difficult to cope in the mainstream school he attends, but we have no other choices, without a diagnosis he would not be accepted at one of the schools who cater for those with more complex needs. He is also incredibly intelligent, it is not the work in school he cannot cope with it is the environment, he requires more one to one help but again without a diagnosis, the school do not get the funding for this.

Since just before Christmas he has been struggling, it is so hard to see and hear about you child talking about not wanting to exist, wanting to hurt themselves and at times physically attempting to hurt themselves but be able to do nothing to change their perception of themselves. He hears every negative word and replays it but the positives go by un-noticed. Things were really bad for a while through January, then with a lot of positive reinforcement, it seemed we were getting somewhere. However last week he started a six weeks counselling course with the hope it would help with his self-esteem, instead we are right back at square one.

Yesterday was a bad day, he tried to physically hurt himself, he said a lot of things that once more broke my heart and for the first time I questioned my ability to deal with this, Don’t get me wrong I will of course, you have no choice, there is no magic wand that anyone can wave and make it all okay. But for the first time, I feel tired, weak and alone. I have been crying on and off, day and night for the last 26 hours. I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me, but today, I felt it was time to be honest.

I have spent the morning making phone calls and so far have got nothing, hopefully, the paediatrician will get back to me in the morning but the agency that deals with the autism referral are still not answering the phone nor have they called me back yet, I do not expect them to, I have lost track if the number of voicemails I have left over the last 6 months, they never call back. I am however logging the times and dates I leave the messages this time as well as calling repeatedly in the hope eventually someone might pick up the phone. I feel so tired

I feel so tired, and cannot at the minute see a light at the end of the tunnel. I love my son to pieces, that goes without saying, but today I feel like a failure as a parent because I can’t fix this for him, I can’t make him feel better. We find ways to get through one day at a time, do our best to enjoy the good days and survive the bad ones. I felt the need to share this today because I can guarantee there is at least one other person out there reading this who feels like they are struggling today, not necessarily in the same way, but I just want them to know they are not alone, very few people have the perfect lives they pretend to have on social media, and sometimes it is okay to not be okay, it is okay to say I am struggling today. Today I may cry, I may scream, I may very well throw the phone handset against the wall, but I will get through it and get up tomorrow and hope for a better day, one day at a time is sometimes all that we can do.

So Thoughts On Thursday!

I haven’t really done one of these for a while so it seemed like a good way to have a quick catch up.

Lets start with the fact it is 12 months to Peterborough and #TheDarkerSideOfFiction2017, I am so excited and now really it is my main focus for the future, I had planned on doing The Dragon’s Mark as stand alone book next however as I worked on the project it became clear it has the potential to be a series with a various characters taking the leads at different time, this means I am going to go straight ahead with the Queen Of Ages Trilogy, I shall be doing a cover reveal next Monday as well as announcing the launch date next in next weeks vlog.

OF course the writing is the most important thing but I cannot help but take a look for ideas for swag and of course the search for the perfect ball dress has begun.

If you are on FB you can keep up with the Darker Side event here…https://www.facebook.com/groups/1433818133602201/

And the 2018 event here (as it stands I am not signed to be a signing author at this event but I will be there at the evening event for certain it is just too good to miss) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1541707772746487/

And if you are interested in coming to see me in Peterborough then this is the link you need… https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-darker-side-of-fiction-2017-author-book-signing-event-tickets-24955322040

I am so excited about the future and feel more positive than I have in a long time, make sure you sign up to the newsletter for your chance to get your hands on some bonus give away prizes and be first to know what is happening, I know I have not been very good at keeping up to date with them but I will be sending them out from now on the first of each month and every month one person who opens their newsletter will win a prize though the prize will change from month to month, so anyone opening the November newsletter will go into a draw to win a signed print copy of Voices Across The Void.

Right need to finish editing tomorrows vlog, had a slight technical issue as my memory card slot on the computer decided to die this morning so had to find the camera cable, I will not say how many wrong cables I picked up before finding the right one but I will say I swore.

Take care and if you dress up for Halloween post your pictures to my FB page I will set up a Halloween thread there.

Always playing Catch Up

Every year we begin the same way full of good intentions that fall to the way side as life continues to get in the way. Some times the distractions are real and justified, family time, illness and emotional drams but sometimes it is simply a case of distraction, too much time on social media playing games.  This week I have been incredibly busy as you know with Sports Relief stuff for work, but what it has made me realise is just how much I can get done when the pressure is on, I have spent days editing various video clips, enhancing photos and generally attempting to do a weeks work in a day or two and for the most part managing it. So why then have I not done two monthly round ups or sent out newsletters? Why have I failed to write daily or to get extra blog posts in the bag? I realise the reason is that I am not accountable to anyone else for them!

The downside to being an self published author is that you make your own deadlines, there is no one shouting at you to get a move on, no one waiting for that next book, well not when you start out anyway though I have no doubt further down the road there will be if I am lucky. So this last couple of days I have been looking more into ways to improve my productivity and to set myself goals, both professionally and personally that will help me get to where I want to be. That means first of all catching up with some housekeeping on the blog and doing a couple of round ups, a couple of posts that should have been done already so they are out of the way before A – Z starts and finishing up the editing for the work stuff.

With all that said I need to go get on with it lol I also have tomorrows vlog to film yet and I need to think of something interesting for that or you will just get me waffling lol

January Round Up

Feeling a little violated by Microsoft

When I bought this new desktop computer I bought it as a windows 10 computer, so you might wonder why I am a little upset with Microsoft this morning, well the truth is they have upgraded me against my will.

I brought home a shiny new computer last October rather than having windows 10 already installed it turned out it was windows 8 but windows 10 ready. I did not think too much of it my laptop had been windows 7 and the upgrade to 10 had gone smoothly why would this be any different?

That night I went to bed leaving it upgrading over night, excited about the prospect of playing with it the next day, if only life went that smoothly. I got up waited the eternity it takes for it to configure those final settings, then fired up my various apps and gradually the smile slipped from my lips.  Things would not load, I could not access half the internet, pages would begin to load but not quite manage it.

I walked away, I made a coffee, I breathed into a paper Bag (well okay not actually but you get the picture). Then I remembered an issue I had with my laptop ages ago to do with broadband frequency width or some such technical mumbo jumbo. I phoned the man at Virgin, for nearly an hour I made his life miserable while he tried everything to fix the problem. He couldn’t fix it.

I finally thanked him and told him I was going to try removing windows and rebooting, you guessed it, I reverted it back to windows 8 and everything worked.

Roll forward a few months and the suggestion box for windows 10 starts popping up more frequently, I hit ‘No Thanks’ and carry on with my life, it gets more persistent and begins appearing daily.

Then last week it starts getting more pushy and asking me to set a date for an upgrade, I keep hitting no thanks and carry on.

It decides to set the date for Wednesday night I hit I will arrange it later.

It ignores me.

I wake up last Thursday morning to find I had been upgraded.

Okay it does work okay this time and obviously whatever issue was there last time has been resolved but damn Microsoft I said no!

I have been upgraded a week and so far no real issues although it does keep making me have to reset my default programmes constantly, so much for saving your settings. It could have been much worse and they do seem to have fixed all the bugs that caused issues previously but the bigger more worrying thing is if they can update my software despite me hitting the no button, what else can the see, do or install without my approval? I have nothing to hide, well unless they look too closely at my browsing history in which case I am screwed, but what if they can put things there? Maybe the conspiracy theorists have a point, or what if someone has a personal grudge and works for an IT company?

I am pretty sure there is a story or two there about what could happen if the wrong person is at the other end of the technology.

 

It’s Here! #LupusAnimus Yay!!!!!!!

In case you could not tell I am a little excited!

Just after Christmas I submitted a story to a Charity anthology raising money for Artisan Rarebreed, a charity which rescues animals here in the UK as well as breeding some rare breeds.

Today sees the launch of the E-Book version, with a paper version to follow in the next month so lets do the ‘official launch’ bit…

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Can’t afford a donation to help out a charity? How about a book?

 

‘She was just eating her meal when she smelled a male wolf nearby – not one of her own. She watched him warily as he came slowly toward the three pups that were out the enclosure again.’ Lost Mate, Terry Spear – US Today Bestseller

Featuring poems, stories and haiku with the theme of wolves and the truth as each author perceives it.

Discover wolves in a sci-fi setting, followed by in character views of wolves in their natural settings and in conflict with humans.

All proceeds go to Artisan Rarebreeds.
Registered Charity Number
HMRC XT37297

With stories, poems and haiku from Ylva and Rose DelaWulf, Sherrill Willis, Zakira Salem, Krystal O’Brien, L. Anne Wooley, Shelley Walsh, Eleanor Musgrove, Delbert McGill, Michael E. Herman, Melina Turner, Caio Henrique Tavares, Yanick Zolnerciks, Paula Acton, Philip Tolhurst, John C. Scott, Jessica Kuilan Gonzalez, Dee Martin, Danielle Newman, James Don and Lisa Miller.

Right enough of being official please excuse me while I dance round the room. (No I am not wearing my shimmy belt and I am not videoing it before anyone asks.)  I think one of the reasons it is so exciting to be published in something like this is obviously firstly knowing you are helping a worthy cause but the second and more personal reason is vindication as a writer.  Doubt is a companion for most writers, but I think even more so for those who have or intend to self-publish, if you go down the traditional publishing route then at least one other person is saying they believe in your work, even if it is a small company or they just see pound signs in your writing but for the self-published it is a case of putting yourself out there and hoping.  By submitting and being accepted for this type of project or journals you get the support of others out there who are saying ‘yes you are good enough’ and by donating a story you both provide something the other holds of value and benefit each other.  So for me seeing this…10439225_10154207205205576_739493400_o

means just as much as the extra funds will to the good folks over at Artisan.  If you want to see more of the good work they do check out their Facebook page here.

I shall be reading my copy on my kindle heading to Stratford tomorrow, I shall grab a few postcards to send to friends around the world as well as posting a few pictures to my Twitter and Instagram feeds but the main thing is fingers crossed I am to film for this months Vlog from the birthplace of Shakespeare, if you would like to grab a copy of Lupus Animus here are the links and don’t forget the funds go to a good cause so if you love it tell your friends about it as well.  Right off to get dinner ready as daughter is staying here tonight prior to her birthday outing tomorrow.

Buy links

US: http://www.amazon.com/Lupus-Animus-Anthology-Jennifer-Don-ebook/dp/B00KWL0GGA

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lupus-Animus-Anthology-Jennifer-Don-ebook/dp/B00KWL0GGA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22351432-lupus-animus

Leaving it to the last minute

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I am a terrible procrastinator!

This is a fact there is no denying it and yesterday my dithering nearly cost me my sanity.  A while ago I spotted a call for submissions which sounded interesting, immediately a thought started to germinate in my mind for a story.  Did I sit down and write it? No, I waited letting it blossom, following all the various stems in my imagination deciding which I would cultivate and which I would allow to whither.  During this period time ticked away until I found I had only a few days left to actually write the story if I intended to submit it.

At this point it was the last few days of the Easter holidays and I was working so I decided to leave it until Monday after all three days to write 3000 words no problem, except Monday came and some how the story didn’t I sat staring at the screen and managed around 800 then promptly deleted 700 hundred of them.  Tuesday I faced the keyboard with determination, Windows had finished upgrading the previous evening so my computer would be running nice and smoothly. I sat and the words flowed right up until it was time for the afternoon school run.  My word count was around 2400 so not much to finish and edit I saved it then put an audio book on iTunes played a few games before going to sleep, the computer still running playing the audio book to me (it was Terry Pratchett’s Mort if anyone needs that information lol).  Next morning I awoke and began planning my day when I noticed a white message in the middle of my black screen, and error prevented….I hit a button nothing, no spark back into life, no sign of anything happening.  I had saved my work so thought nothing of pressing the button to shut it down fully and restart it after all what could go wrong.

Have there ever been more ominous words uttered throughout history?

The computer restarted, everything was going so well, right up until I opened word! There was my document in the retrieval pane, but not the 2400 I had saved but the measly 100 with which I had begun the previous day. I panicked, I cried, I confess I may have sworn just a little.  I had no time to dwell on it I had writing to do but I couldn’t I had dancing, then work, I posted my despair on Facebook got the monster reading for school and headed out trying to plot how I could achieve the impossible.  I stood at the bus cursing my own stupidity for leaving it till the last minute then tweeted a slim glimmer of hope that I could still manage it.  I got through the day one half of my mind on the tasks at hand the other trying to work out what time I needed to hit certain word counts at to make it.

I got home sent a few requests on games while I ate my dinner, rung my daughter who gave me the same lecture about not being negative and believing in yourself that I have been giving her the last few weeks as she completed her final essays. Just before 7pm I switched Freedom on and the world disappeared it was just me, the story and the word count.

9pm Freedom switches the internet back on and I am at 2000 words, I enlist daughter for some quick editing and a second opinion on where the story is going, she provides both, I message a friend in the States and persuade her to stop paying attention to her job for a few minutes and have a read through, she agrees.  Both of them love the story and tell me off for leaving them hanging and tell me to get on with finishing it.

10.20pm The story now stands at 3004 words I email a copy to daughter and friend to check out while I go double check the submission details.

10.25pm I have a nervous breakdown after reading that the word count is between 4k and 8k and realise I have mixed the number up with another submission I recently considered.

10.30pm Daughter delivers a virtual cyber slap and tells me to pull myself together and begins trying to work out how I can expand the story without spoiling it, I threaten to just send it as it is, friend is leaving work but promises to cheer-lead from home computer.

11.15pm Am sat with windows wide open trying to clear my vision which is becoming increasingly blurred am still 500 words short and my fingers are ceasing to work.

11.40pm Two hundred words away from target and it has never seemed like a more impossible task.

11.50pm Send 3900 words to daughter to quickly look for major mistakes while I find a last couple of places to add a sentence or two.

11.58pm Submit 4012 word story then email to daughter and friend before collapsing into bed.

1.48am Still laying awake get message from friend saying wow, finally smile and fall asleep.

Lesson learnt, I will never put myself in that position again. I will remember to constantly back up to second source every time and not wait until deadlines are due.  Today I am very, very tired and still have work to go (I might have a quick nap later).  The most frustrating thing is of course the long wait now until I hear whether the story has been accepted or not.