After ‘Scared’ -What Happens When Your Book is Picked Up by A Publisher?

The beautiful cover of my soon to be released( February 2019) book. I am thrilled with this design although I had a few to choose from.

Fire & Ice 1

 

As I wrote in an earlier post Scared- it is exhilarating and slightly scary when your dream of publication comes true. You may think that your hard work is over- well as I have learned it isn’t, the hard work is just beginning!

You get a contract and you need to read and understand it and agree to the terms before you sign it. I was fortunate that my publisher used a reputable contract from The Australian Society of Authors. (ASA)

Then the publisher emailed me to say ‘can we have a blurb’ sometime today. A ‘blurb’ is the enticing text on the back of a book that influences a reader to buy it. I’d never written a blurb before but by serendipity, I had downloaded an article on how to do so. It took a few attempts to produce one that I liked, with input from some writer friends. When finished the publisher liked it.

Coming February 2019. Olympic ice dancer Blaise Daniels partner has just called it quits –  leaving her with no chance of competing at the Winter Olympics. Determined not to give up on her dream, she travels to Norway to meet legendary skater Kristoffer Erikson. After a bumpy start, they connect both on and off the ice. Their partnership seems assured, but why do they both start having dreams of a mysterious Viking past? Can an ancient love be rekindled, or will an old tragedy complicate their present?
 https://daisylanepublishing.com/product/fire-and-ice/

Having poured your heart and soul into the book – now it is the hands of an editor. Soon you will have pages of queries and notes and suggestions to think about and incorporate.

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At the same time, you need to sort out the business side of things, like applying for an Australian Business Number if you are in Australia or complying with your area’s legal requirements.

Now comes the shared task of promoting your book. How will it be launched? My publisher is in the Eastern stares I am in Perth.

As it is my first book I am loving the idea of a physical book launch, so that means thinking of an affordable venue and wondering how to make the event stand out.

There is also an online launch to plan and a blog tour too. More about those as I gain more insights

Writing the book is just the first step., and how many more exciting steps are to follow.

The book is available for preorder through Daisy Lane Publishers.

Scared!

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Have you ever had a dream so big that it scared you?

Dreams are personal I know, and one person’s dream may be another’s nightmare. My lifelong dream is to write and publish a book and not just any book, a novel. One that I am proud of.

A few months ago, I was offered the opportunity to do just that. Out of the blue, I was offered a chance to have my (yet unfinished book) published. No strings attached, I wasn’t having to pay them, it was a genuine offer.

I was overwhelmed, excited, thrilled, exhilarated. What I hadn’t anticipated was that my writing would slow up. I liked my story premise, I thought I can pull it off so why did I find myself procrastinating? The simple answer was that I was scared. Scared of not measuring up to my own ideas of what a writer should be.Scared of failure and of success.

After much soul-searching, I realised that I was scared that I was not the person I thought I was, ‘a writer’ Since that realisation I have faced my fears and showed up at the keyboard daily. I will finish the book. How can I not? I have people counting on me.

I’d love to know what scared you, did you face your fears or not? .

 

Grab Those Coloured Pencils and Improve Your Writing

  Do You Show or Tell in Your Writing?

 

It is often difficult to assess your own work, but there is a way to see what you are doing.

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Pencils to highlight your writing.Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Colouring! Yes really, grab yourself some coloured marker pens or coloured pencils and prepare to be enlightened.

I heard of this concept during a presentation that Natasha Lester author of The Paris Seamstress made during the Rockingham Writer’s convention. This is how she explained her system. By the way, this applies to all popular commercial fiction but not so much to literary fiction.

Action – Coloured PINK

Dialogue- Coloured-BLUE

Thought– Coloured YELLOW

Description-Coloured GREEN

Transitions—BLANK -NOT COLOURED

Back story-Coloured ORANGE.

She suggested colouring action and dialogue first  to show you the balance of those,

Ideally, they should be most of the page, at least 60% but not in huge blocks of colour. Interweave with other aspects of the story.

Doing this enables you to SEE what you need to change, to add or subtract.

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Photocopy a couple of pages of a favourite book. Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

If you feel this may be too confronting you can always photocopy two or three pages from a book and try it with them.

Your goal is not to emulate them, your goal is to see whether they get it right or wrong and to improve your own writing. The only person you need to compare yourself with is the self of yesterday are you learning, growing, progressing?

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Remind yourself how far you have Ncome.Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

This is Why You Should Attend Author Talks.

We all have limited time at our disposal so should you take time out to attend an author talk?

My answer is – it depends on what you want from the talkWoman reading jojo Silass unspalsh

Firstly, have you read any of the author’s books or do you intend to?

It’s true that you can probably learn something from every author, but if you don’t write fantasy you may not need to learn how that writer built their fantasy world

It makes more sense to attend a talk by an author of books in a genre that you enjoy. You will get more out of it and understand the nuances that he/she is talking about.

Do you want to know more about their books or their writing process?

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Have you heard from others that their talks are entertaining and meaningful?

One fairly well-known crime writer gave a talk that was so self-congratulatory and self-absorbed that he barely had time to listen to questions, much less answer them.

In contrast, I recently attended a talk by author Rachael Johns international best-selling author and writer of both contemporary fiction and rural romances.

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As a former English teacher Rachael is as you would expect is a big fan of both reading and writing.

Her first point was that ‘you have to be a reader to be a writer’

She quoted statistics from the University of Sussex, which showed that regular reading slowed the onset of dementia and also reduced stress by 66%. We readers know what we are doing!

Additionally, storytelling is important to society, offering escapism, relaxation, thrills, enjoyment and encouraging a capacity for empathy.

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It is fascinating to learn how a story came about, what hunches or subconscious suggestions added to the tale.

In her talk she debunked many myths about their being ‘only one way to write’ and ‘you must plan your story in detail’

As someone who never fills out a character profile sheet (which is often recommended ), it was thrilling to hear Rachael say that she never uses them. Her stories grow organically, as she learns details about her characters.

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The talk covered more topic such as what makes a book memorable? Why do we care about characters?  We want them to grow and change to face up to challenges. She said that ‘people are products of their pasts’. Past hurts, emotional or physical leave their marks. In real life we want happiness but in fiction, we seek drama and conflict As Rachael said, ‘we need to torture our characters.’

It is inspiring how normal those rarefied creatures called authors are, how pleased they are to hear that you liked their book and want them to sign it for you. And of course, you can thank an author by leaving a review of their book on Good reads or AmazonSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

As a reader it feels good to meet your favourite authors, to thank them and say how much you enjoyed their book, but as a writer, it is encouraging to hear how scenes were deleted, how characters refused to behave, how the author struggled to completion.

An author talk can be a simple social event, with a chat and a cup of tea or a glass of wine afterwards, or it can be a lesson in what successful authors do that you could do too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Why your Story Didn’t Win: Part Two

I took notes during Laurie Steed’s talk, but these are summaries of the advice that he offered and my interpretations.

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But I Know the Judge!

Some contests will announce who their judges are, many are judged blind their identity only announced once judging is complete. It is highly unethical to contact the judge, and even more unethical to offer inducements. You could be disqualified for that alone. Laurie said one woman asked him which of three topics she should enter-he declined to answer.

Titles: The Good, The Bad and What The??

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The title is the first impression the judge gets of the story. What are you writing about? Do you want to let it be known right away or keep a bit of intrigue?

Titles that are simple and direct, such as Rudolph the Reindeer might work for a children’s book but not necessarily for an adult reader.

Bland titles are not the best reflection of your creativity. So, Susan’s Day, The Picnic. My Dog Sam, or The Wedding and unlikely to fill the judge with much enthusiasm. Of course, if you are a brilliant writer you might just pull it off, but why risk it?

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A better choice may intrigue the reader and invite them to read the story. You might find inspiration within the story itself or an idea may suggest itself when your story is written. You might even use a quotation such as Ray Bradbury did with Something Wicked This Way Comes. (Shakespeare) An example Laurie Steed gave of a good title was The Fantastic Breasts by Julie Koh.

Talking about Topics, what you should know.

Some topics are just more popular with writers than others. Does that mean you should avoid them? Not necessarily but be aware that many others will be writing on the same subject. You might have to be more creative in your approach so that your story stands out.

Popular Topics  and the Less Popular Ones    

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Popular Topics   

 

Likely to get lots of entries)            (Less competition)

Divorce.                                                    Immortality

Adolescence.                                           Happy Stories (Hard to do well)

Romance.                                                 LGBT Romance

Pregnancy/Abortion                               Anxiety

Cancer                                                       Urban Animal stories

Office Life.                                                Speculative Fiction

War.                                                           Fantasy( Hard to do well)

Depression.

Race.

Abuse

Violence

His advice was to be original, subvert expectations, use your creativity and allow yourself to think beyond the obvious. Engage the reader, include sensory details and don’t be knowingly clever!

Two Additional Tips from Me.

Check and recheck the terms and conditions.

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I did that this week prior to sending a contest entry off and it’s lucky that I did.

Most contests specify a size 12 font, but this one specified size 11 font. Who could have guessed, and will some entries be disqualified because they didn’t comply?

 

Retain Your Copyright- It’s Precious!

Check those terms and conditions again to make sure that you are NOT signing over your copyright. Who knows what your future holds? You might be the next big thing.

What if J.K Rowling had signed away her copyright? She would have lost book rights, foreign rights, film rights, digital rights, adaption rights, merchandising rights and possibly others that I am unaware of.

Contests challenge us to produce our best work, to think laterally and to enjoy our writing. Even if your story didn’t win it’s probably a perfectly good story, it just didn’t suit either that judge or that contest.

You may submit it elsewhere, or you may decide it needs more work. Your story, your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

This is Why your Story Didn’t Win.

How to improve your chances

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop focussing on why stories win or don’t win competitions.  Experienced short story writer and author of You Belong Here Laurie Steed was the presenter.

He began with the basic and obvious pointers.

Follow the rules. If they ask for a 2,000-word short story don’t send one word over that limit.

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Read all the terms and conditions. It would be awful to be disqualified on a technicality. Some contests are open to anyone, some to residents of certain areas, or age groups. Some stipulate no one who has earned money from their writing is eligible.

What a judge hopes to see.  

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A strong opening to the story, with an engaging or relatable character, strong stakes, and some sort of closure. Not necessarily a ‘happily ever after’ but an ending that satisfies the reader.

Laurie Steed made that point that people now have so many other choices to entertain themselves, so if they devote their time to reading it had better be good. Everything matters in your story-there is no space for a digression, your reader has chosen to be with you, it’s your job to keep them.

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Writing on Topic:  If a picture or story prompt is given-try to avoid the obvious approach. Strive for an unusual or unique perspective with good details.

Pacing. Keep an eye on the pacing and sentence length strive for balance neither too slow or too fast. Appropriate to the story that you are telling.

Don’t try telling a story too complex for the word length or with too much back story or irrelevant details.

The next post will summarise further advice relating to creating strong and weak titles, and story topics.

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From 500 entries submitted to one contest, he estimated that about 10% were serious contenders. Learn how to make yours one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

Where do you get your ideas?

‘The past is a foreign country they do things differently there.’ LP. Hartley ‘The Go-Between’

 

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It’s a question that every writer hears ’where  do you get your ideas?’ At times it is tempting to say something flippant like ‘Oh I pop down to the App store and pick a few.’ But it’s not that easy.

So where do writers get ideas?  The answer is probably as individual as the writers themselves. Some writers are meticulous planners and know what they will write about. They are known as Plotters and have inciting incidents and compelling storylines at their fingertips. They have detailed plans and character profiles and timelines all prepared. At times I wish I was more like them, but I am not.

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My stories begin who knows where? Although the term Pantsers is applied to writers like me, I prefer to think I am an organic writer. One who builds as she goes, capturing a fragment of a sentence, an intriguing snippet or topic, an overheard remark or a sliver of memory.

photo-1496867557017-559adb93b339 David Zwalia

Recently, I entered a short story contest and the picture prompt didn’t initially inspire me. The trick was to let my imagination roam, to go beyond the obvious. In one story I used three incidents I knew about, things that had happened to me, or to friends. Sibling rivalry, an attempted drowning and person with mental illness.  The facts bled into the fiction, hopefully giving it an authenticity.

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Writing the second story I began with a fragment of memory of clearing the attic and as I wrote a long-forgotten memory surfaced. I must have been about six and we were at the beach.  My father dived in and rescued a woman who was attempting to drown herself. I remember her sobbing, with dad’s jacket placed around her shoulders. And then it’s a blank- what happened next, I have no idea.photo-Gir on stony beach Caroline hernadez

I’d forgotten about it until now, so many years later, when I fictionalised it and used it in my story. If memory chooses not to come at my call but returns unprompted it is still a valid memory. The trick is to hold on to that image, that memory, and see if more will follow.

Nowadays, I think of my past as a place to explore. I can get there from here. The route may be unfamiliar, the recall imperfect, but it is uniquely mine. Others may recall the same events, but not in the same specific way. What attracted me, what was important to me, may not have mattered to them. My stories begin here, and I realize that the things that matter to me always have.