It’s been rather crazy around here, but crazy in a good way. Now that winter is over and the sun is coming up at a decent hour, I’ve been making real progress on my novels. By the end of the week book 4 of the Forest Guardians series will be ready for final draft form. In some ways that’s my favourite part of writing. The story is already down and I get to make it vivid and pretty.
Just as exciting for me, I’m working with a cover design artist to give the series a new and cohesive look. I’ve seen the initial concepts and I’m very happy with all three books. Book 3, Healer’s Strength, hasn’t changed much, though the first book has changed the most.
All in all, writing is still just as fun as when I started the whole thing. It’s been a year now since I decided to write a book. I started doing online writing courses last March. I started my first novel in April and it was published last August. Two novels, actually, under two pen names, both published around the same time.
I look back at this last year and it still amazes me. I wrote four books under two pen names. I rearranged my bedroom and made a writing corner by the window. I filled that corner with a desk I made myself, with some help from my ever supportive guy, out of wood that had personal meaning to me. I formed a routine, something I seldom ever do, and stuck to it. Most of all, when I was starting from scratch, I found something I love to do (writing) and I made it a priority in my life. Now I have direction and a passion, and writing has opened other doors for me. Some of those new connections were surprising, but they’ve made my life better.
So, what are these new covers like?
You’ll have to wait and see! They’re coming soon...
That’s right, Forest Guardians Book 3 is in the final preparation stages before publishing. It’s been an exciting and busy time, and not just for the book release. The martial arts book is coming along as well, and I’m enjoying writing it.
One thing I do as an author is regularly take courses and webinars and learn more about writing. This last week I have been busy with webinars on different topics relating to self-publising. Most exciting, this weekend I am attending an online conference, my first ever for writing. Inkers Mini-Con starts this morning.
It’s a little hectic, trying to release a book while studying writing and self-publishing, but the best part about self-publishing is the ability to set my own schedule. If I need a little more time, I take it. If I’m ready sooner, so be it, I adjust.
Since I’ve spent the last couple of weeks busily studying, the editing has taken a little longer than I originally thought. I’m fine with that, as my editor was also a bit busy. Now we’re in the formatting stage. Some of what I’ve been learning will help me with the formatting and physical book preparation. It’s not just writing, when you’re a self-published author, it’s also getting everything else ready, too.
I enjoy it, though, the learning and improving and really getting to know each skill. Everything from being able to evaluate a cover to knowing when your editor is doing a good job, getting the file into the format and ending up with a book, it’s an adventure in itself.
Unfortunately, blogging took a slight backseat to learning, and that’s okay sometimes. Social media also took a vacation while I get things ready. With so much to learn and do, there’s no need to rush. Writing is a life-long pursuit, and I’m still young for a writer. You’re never too old to learn new skills. Just remember, if you want to self-publish, there’s a lot to know, and finding the right people to help can make all the difference for you.
I love being a self-published author, and I’m not alone. I’ve heard now from a few established authors who started traditionally published that switched, and they prefer self-publishing, too. Now, it’s not without its challenges, and traditionally publishing has a lot going for it as well. Still, self publishing allows us to share stories we feel it’s in our hearts to tell.
How do we keep the quality of our books up? We have to pay attention, but we can put out books just as high quality as you’d get from a major traditional publisher. I’m not only an author, but also a reader. I love finding hidden gems from other self published authors. I’ve also started many books and ended up stopping early. I’ll share the main reasons I’ll stop reading, so you can look at your own writing and see if it’s something you need to be aware of.
1. Long and convoluted sentences can break the flow of a story. There’s nothing wrong with using commas. I use them, too. If you’re going to use them, use them well. If you have more than one or two commas in a sentence, you might want to break the sentence up, or even find a way to reword your ideas. I stopped reading a book because sentences were too complex and I couldn’t get into the story. Actually, this might be the top reason I’ve given up on books. Five commas are a sign you need to re-examine your sentence. Seriously, I’ve seen it often.
2. Watch your point of view. Learn about the different points of view you can use and how each one works. Whatever you choose, be consistent. It’s possible to mix points of view and do it well, but this takes real skill. The hardest one I think to do well is third person omniscient, which means you hear from every character and know their thoughts. If your narrative is head hopping randomly, it can be more distracting than effective. Ways to handle multiple points of view include separating views by chapter, or section, or even by book in a series.
3. Spelling and grammar issues can be distracting. Spell checkers are great, but they won’t necessarily tell you when you used the wrong word, and grammar checkers might not catch it, either. Having someone else read your work can help, as we don’t always catch our own mistakes. Even professional proofreaders miss the occasional error, so it’s usually not a dealbreaker for all but the fussiest readers, but most readers won’t fuss over a single error or two.
4. Know your audience. At least, pay attention to your audience’s age and reading level. I expect different things if I’m picking up a young adult book, a middle grade book, or something aimed at adults. Young people can be all over the place in their reading levels, with a voracious 12 year old maybe out-reading a late teen reader. However, sometimes you have a young reader who is more sheltered mentally or emotionally. Keep this in mind when choosing your story and how to tell it, if age might be a factor. It doesn’t mean you have to change your story, but maybe it’ll help you decide how much detail to use on certain scenes, or what words to use.
Put out the best book you can. You’ll get better the more you write. My second book is more polished and has better writing than my first book. That’s normal. Many books from now, I might look back and see how much better a writer I am than when I started. Write every chance you get and study writing. Not all writing rules matter to all writers, but you’ll find a style that works for you. Just keep in mind who your audience is, so you can write a book they’ll love. Firstly, though, make sure you love your story, too. Get writing!
After a crazy week, Facing the Fire is now out and available for you to enjoy. Aili’s adventures continue, and you get to meet some new friends she makes, as well as learning more about her country. Book 2, Facing the Fire, finishes her adventures with the magical artifact she first encounters in Runaway Magic, Book 1.
I’ve already plotted out the third book and I begin writing that tomorrow. She tackles new problems and visits a new forest. Aili is going to experience her first temperate rain forest. So far each forest has been inspired by actual environments I’ve been in, and the next forest is no exception. Canada has a wide variety of ecosystems and I can use them all as inspiration for new places Aili can go.
Our first newsletter went out today as well. Each has a bonus story involving Aili, as well as updates from the last month, and a poll or question that lets me get your opinion on something about the books or the characters.
After working so hard to learn new skills and get the book and newsletter done, it’s time for a quick rest. I’m not stopping writing, I’m just taking it easy for the week. I love adventuring with Aili and that will continue. Normally I will write between 2000 and 6000 words a day. This week I’m going to write however much I want and not focus on anything but telling the story how I like. A rest is a good thing. Unfortunately, Aili hasn’t had a chance to rest in her stories, which means I haven’t rested, either!
Life has been a little crazy here lately. Winter is visiting early and we’re getting snow. Way more snow than normal for this time of year, in fact. A family member has been dealing with a health issue as well that means they can’t drive, so I’ve been driving them to appointments. Now, snow and roads...yeah, I’m not a fan of winter driving. I can do it, I’m good, but I don’t enjoy it.
Mostly my writing has been uninterrupted and normal scheduling, though the occasional day I’ve had to adjust around medical appointments. I’m now proofreading and making tiny changes for words and meanings, so I’m almost done. Facing the Fire will be for sale soon!
With everything going on right now, I’m resting every chance I get, when I’m not editing, that is. My first newsletter is already prepared and ready to be sent out on the 27th of October. I can relax and work on the final stages of getting Facing the Fire out into the world and still help my family member with their health problems.
I’ll leave it there, as it’s nap time. I just got back from driving up to a hospital on horrible roads, and I’m tired!
Yes, it’s that time again. Aili is ready to share another adventure soon. The second book is nearly fully in the final draft, and editing begins this week. Before the end of October, Facing the Fire will be available for sale.
That also means I’ll begin planning her next adventure incredibly soon as well. As it sometimes happens, I have ideas where I’d like to go, but Aili had other ideas of her own. She decided certain things needed to happen when I was writing the ending of book two, and now I have something more to tackle in upcoming books. Teenagers!
When I first considered writing a series, I was hesitant. Some well known authors I had been learning from expressed that sequels could be a unique challenge, but I didn’t find it so. If anything, it was easier to write than the first book. Mind you, the first book I was still learning how to write a novel.
So, what happens in the second book? You learn more about the main characters. You learn some back story for both Scouts. You see Aili tackle her challenges she faces after the final scene in the first book. You get to meet more Scouts and learn more about her society.
What about the third book? I’m still in the planning stages. I won’t start writing it until the second book is ready to be published. I can promise you’ll learn even more about everyone, Aili will have new adventures, she’ll face a whole new set of challenges, and she’ll get to see more of her world. For someone who grew up in a city, even a large city, she’s never explored her country until she set off on her own in book one.
Keep an eye out. Book two is coming soon!
I’ve been busy this lat week, getting my next book ready to publish. Well, today I proofread it. I am done! Almost. It’s with my co-proofreader and beta-reader for final comments and editing, but that usually doesn’t mean much change.
Needless to say, today was a day to celebrate. Now it’s time to start getting the file ready to turn into books, and start getting cover design and so on. I’m a happy author.
What else should happen today but my own copies of my first book came back from the printer. That’s right, actual physical proof for myself that this was not all just a dream, I am indeed a published author. I am crazy happy and super excited. I know, surely an author can come up with a prettier way of saying that, but I’m so excited I don’t care. Watch me be enthusiastic.
If I’m a little quiet for the rest of the week, it’s because I’m doing pre-publication work on the novel. Also exciting news, book two of the Forest Guardians series is entering what should be the final draft as well. Within a month or two it’ll be ready to publish. I’m looking forward to that book a lot. Aili is a fun character to write for, even if she keeps taking my plots and going somewhere with them that I never saw coming. Teenagers!
What’s the hardest part of writing? Every author will give you their own answer. Mine? Choosing a book title. What the heck am I supposed to call that thing, anyways? How do I make it snappy and something inviting while capturing the essence of the story?
I didn’t know the title to Runaway Magic until the book was done and I was working on the cover. Well, the sequel is well underway. I’m beginning to pick a title for it. What the heck am I going to call it?
I’ve got a file where I keep promotional material for the Forest Guardians series, like possible titles, possible book blurbs, and so on. One method that works is for me to start listing possible titles. I just put out whatever comes to mind and see if something really strikes me as being perfect. The other thing I do is a quick search to see how many other works share the title. I had one I loved for the sequel, but I’d be competing with so many other books that I’d get lost in the mix.
The good news is that I have time to decide. I have until the book gets submitted for publishing, really. While I also have to assign my ISBN number, and I do that myself, again it’s a thing done during the publishing process.
That’s also why the coming soon title on the main page has no title yet. I know the basis of the story, but I don’t yet know what it’ll be called. Oh, well, I do have time!
What’s your writing challenge, your own hardest part?
After a break from working on the erotica, due to life circumstances, I’m back at it. I did not realize how close to done I really was...
Getting my first book published was a crazy whirlwind of excitement and stress. I will admit, it took a lot out of me, in both time and attention. It was thrilling in an “I did a thing” kind of way. I was exhausted for days.
Now that I know what to do and how to do it, I’m more relaxed about my next book coming out. I can take my time and enjoy the experience more easily without the stress of figuring things out.
I have a few scenes to write and some editing to do, then my first romance/erotica will be available to share with people. It will be published under a different pen name, so my young adult readers don’t encounter materials that aren’t suitable for them. It’s exciting, getting a book out to share with people. Some will love it, some will hate it, but I had fun writing it.
I expect to be ready within a couple of weeks. I’m still working on the sequel and the martial arts book, as I enjoy having different projects on the go. I know from finishing my first book that the excitement of being done means I’m not focused enough to start plotting another novel. Having one already going means I can settle into my routine of writing more easily and keep my momentum going. I do love writing.
Still, ALMOST THERE!
Today I submitted my files for publishing. I’m starting on Amazon for ease of use. Mid-afternoon I finished the submissions and got everything done. The ebook version is already up for sale. Wow, that was fast. The paperback version is still under review for quality control, but the prescreen showed no issues.
I did a thing! For the past two weeks I had been spending my afternoons preparing the manuscript, learning how to use the converter programs, dealing with cover art, and more. It’s been a journey and an adventure, though not as exciting as what my character goes through. Still, it was exciting and stressful and nerve-wracking, and wonderful.
I can’t wait to have a physical copy of my book, so I can read and enjoy it over and over again, easily looking things up if I need to as I write the next books in the series. I’m almost halfway through writing the second book, so a couple of months and it’ll be up for sale, too.
The most surprising part of the process was seeing the book being turned into an actual print ready file. I got to choose book size and learned how many pages the finished book was going to be. Since it was written in word in normal view, 8.5” x 11”, it wasn’t even 200 pages, though I had the word count right around 80 000 words. Seeing how many pages it was as I played with book size was fascinating.
The software made turning the file into books incredibly easy. I’m pleased with how well it went and how intuitive it was. As I have two more books coming up in the next few months, it’s reassuring to know the publishing stages are so simple. I can focus on making the best book possible and writing stories I love. For now, I rest and celebrate, after two weeks of learning and solid work. CELEBRATE!
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.