Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow (eek!) and as you may remember, I have set myself a target of adding 25K to my second novel, provisionally called ‘Seeking Approval’ that I started last November. I’ve been so busy trying to edit/rewrite my first novel, ‘From Here to Nashville’ for submission to the RNA that I have had no time to look at the second one since last year and so I felt that a reread was in order before I start writing again tomorrow. The time had come for me to learn how to upload a novel to my Kindle. I read up about it first on one of the Scrivener tutorials and already knew that I would have to ‘compile’ the document but I had no idea what to do after that. Well, I struggled on with a bit of help from my husband and I uploaded my story to my Kindle, having downloaded Kindle Gen from Amazon. I was so excited to have done it that I even took a picture! It felt great to see my book and my name in my list of contents on my Kindle front page. When I opened the story though, I could see there were a few formatting issues which I had no idea how to resolve and although this isn’t a major concern at the moment, I will need to know how to fix these issues at some point.
Luckily, I had signed up for a free webinar last week, organised by Joanna Penn, the indie author, and Joseph Michael, known as The Scrivener Coach. In fact, so many other people had signed up for it too that when we all logged in to watch the webinar last Thursday, the site crashed! However, they re-recorded it and the very next day, they sent us a recording of the whole thing to watch at our leisure. There were many useful topics covered on the webinar and I was pleased to see that I already use Scrivener quite effectively. However, I also picked up a lot of tips and tricks and Joe did a step-by-step explanation of how to compile your work-in-progress for Kindle.
For example, I hadn’t even realised that I had also downloaded the Kindle Previewer from Amazon which would have allowed me to see the formatting problems and fixed them before I uploaded my novel to my Kindle to read. Joe explained that you can even set up an e-book template to use each time you upload a novel to your Kindle or when you’re ready to publish so that you don’t have to remember how to do it each time.
I was pleasantly surprised with the writing of this story and I was easily able to make notes on the text of some edits I wanted to make whilst I was actually reading. I now feel ready to carry on with the story tomorrow with the start of Camp NaNo and I don’t feel anywhere near as daunted as I did previously. Starting tomorrow, my target is to write 1000 words a day minimum to make my target of 25K by the end of the month. The sharp mathematicians amongst you will think this should be easy, given that there are 30 days in April but don’t forget, I’m off to New York for six days so I’ve given myself a bit of leeway 😉
If you’re taking part in Camp NaNo, what’s your goal in April and how have you prepared for it? Let me know in the comments below. Wishing you all lots of luck. See you round the fire 🙂
I have two children and I was very lucky not to have to work when they were small. Of course, there were days when I thought I might go mad with only two young children for company but mostly, I just enjoyed that time whilst I could. Once my youngest was at school though, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, finally deciding that I should retrain as a teacher. I had thought about it many times in the past but it was only through volunteering in my children’s school that I came to realise that this was a job I could do and perhaps enjoy.
A year ago, I had been teaching for about four years when a personal crisis came in the family. This only confirmed for me what I had been thinking for some time, which was that my own family and my own life, were coming second to my job. As anyone who is a teacher knows, it can be all-consuming. You never get to the end of your to-do list and the paperwork is overwhelming at the best of times. Add to this the constant scrutiny and it can feel like a very miserable job indeed. I made a decision then that I would ask to go part-time. Whilst I waited to hear the school’s decision and I struggled to deal with the personal crisis, I started to write my novel.
Writing became an escape for me. I found it calming and therapeutic to write and in no time at all, I had a complete first draft on my hands. Suddenly, a new world had opened up before me and I wanted to know more about it. In September last year, I switched to part-time working and now, on my two days off from work, I try and write as much as possible and I try to write/edit on every other day as well. My life feels more balanced and I have more time and energy for my own family.
My ultimate goal is to publish my novel now and to finish the other one I’m in the middle of writing. A lot of hard work lies between now and then but whilst writing continues to help me make sense of my life and what I want from it, I will keep on doing it. I’m not afraid of the hard work at all, although it is daunting to be learning something new (as I’ve documented on my blog here 😉 ) but with each achievement comes satisfaction and that makes it all worth it. This week, I finished my one page synopsis for example and sent it with the first two chapters of my novel to the Bath Novel Award competition. It was a long hard slog writing that synopsis but now I’ve done it, it feels great and I feel ready to go back to my rewriting.
So, in summary, I started writing to help me through a difficult time in my life and now that I have passed through that crisis and come out the other side, I am glad to say, I find myself doing something so enjoyable that my only question is why didn’t I do it earlier? Who knows? But I truly believe that now is my time to spread my wings through writing and I plan to make the most of it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you’d like to share your story about why you started writing below in the comments, I’d love to hear it.
Fear seems to be the theme for a lot of my posts so far this year 🙁
I have been steadily rewriting my first draft for a while now, in fact for the first part of my story, this is more like rewrite number four and every time I think I’ve got it in the bag, I realise that there are still far too many aspects of the story that aren’t quite right yet. Admittedly, I have sought external feedback and now I’m having to take that feedback on the chin, which is proving to be very hard. It feels like I will never be done with the rewrites and that fills me with gloom and fear. I am normally a very optimistic person, a great feat considering I have been married for nearly twenty-five years to someone whose favourite band of all time is The Smiths and favourite singer, Morrissey, by extension 😉 I have spent my life being a glass half-full kind of person but since I started my first novel, I have found myself feeling daunted by the uphill struggle that writing involves. Naturally, I have spent some time wondering why this is and here is my conclusion.
Although there is a wealth of advice out there, there is no single tried and tested method for writing a novel and you wouldn’t want there to be. It’s just that there are so many choices. Should you outline or fly by the seat of your pants? Should you just write until you finish then edit or should you edit as you go? Should you aim for a beginning, middle and end or should you have five plot points, maybe even seven? I could go on but I can see you nodding and don’t even get me started on punctuation! I’m just reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ at the moment and whilst I’m enjoying this book by one of my writing heroes, even he would agree that he doesn’t practise what he preaches (see what he has to say about the use of adverbs, for example). As a result, the whole writing process is very confusing for a new writer. It will all be such a relief when we’re writing book number two and we know what to expect!
I read an interesting article by an author called Ryan Casey about five steps you can take to make rewriting less painful. You can read it here. Three of his points really stood out to me, as follows:
I found his suggestion about creating a rewriting outline very helpful. He talks of the ‘beat sheet’ idea put forward by Roz Morris in her book ‘Nail Your Novel – Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish with Confidence’. Interestingly, I had been trying to do this very thing in an Excel spreadsheet myself, having seen a synopsis tackled this way by a writing friend. I say trying because I was copying and pasting my scene descriptions from my Scrivener document and it was taking so long, I had become bored and given up! I have decided that I will try and finish this to help me get my head round what I have put into each scene so that when, I said, WHEN, I need to go back and change things, it might be a bit easier.
Interestingly, he suggests setting a target of rewriting two scenes a day, in an effort to be realistic about your targets and goals. I have been doing much more than this, steaming ahead on my days off from work which is my precious writing time. The result of this approach for me has been that I now have so much more to put right following the feedback I’ve received. I am under some pressure in that I have joined the RNA’s (Romantic Novelists’ Association) New Writers’ Scheme and this means I have to submit my manuscript for assessment by the end of August at the latest, although I would prefer to do it sooner. However, I think I have to slow down and be patient if I want the end result to be as good as possible.
Finally, he suggests that we should work on a new project to boost our creative energy. I have left my Nano 2013 novel untouched, pretty much since the end of last November and this point made me realise that I miss it 🙂
I now have some new goals to help me and hope that I will be able to get back to it with renewed enthusiasm. I know this is new advice and we’re all feeling overwhelmed with it but the trouble is, when you don’t know the answers, what else are you going to do? Of course, we will all do what feels right for us individually and only in doing so, will we know whether it was right or not. Writing this first book to completion will be trial and error and we will either make it to book two or we will give up between now and then. I sincerely hope that what I have learned so far will help me get there and if I have helped you too, then so much the better.
If you’re stuck in the middle of rewriting, let me know how you’re getting on in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
The New Year started very well for me when I found out that I had been accepted on to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. This means that I have until the end of August to submit my manuscript for assessment, which will follow by the end of the year. So I have plenty of time to get my first draft ready, right? Well, not if writing the synopsis is anything to go by 🙁
I have written before about whether there is such a thing as too much advice. You can read that blog post here.
There is no doubt that the internet is a wonderful research tool but sometimes, it is really difficult to see the wood for the trees. As you know, I finished reading my first draft aloud at the end of last year. Since then, I have been inputting those edits to my manuscript and now that I have finished, I have turned my attention to trying to write a synopsis in an effort to see where my plot-holes are. You may remember that I wrote my first draft as a ‘pantser’, which is why I now have plot-holes!
I have got into the habit of bookmarking all the useful articles I read about writing so I can come back to them later and today, I decided that it was time for me to pick out all the articles I had found about how to write a good synopsis. There were at least a dozen articles in total when I started re-reading them, although I am sure there are many more out there. There may even be a whole wood 😉 I have read them all and distilled them down to the ones which I found to be the most helpful for me (the trees). I really would encourage you to read these three articles at least.
So now all I have to do is go and write it! I am starting with my scenes and trying to précis these down first. This was already a great shock to me because I have 157 scenes in total, whereas the received wisdom is that 60 – 80 is normal for a novel :o) And so the learning continues…
Tune in next week to see how I got on 🙂 I hope you find these articles helpful but if you have a tried and tested method for writing a synopsis, please do let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
So, I have been back from our wonderful holiday in Sardinia for a couple of days now. I have done all the chores, I have reacquainted myself with the Internet and I have suffered a bout of the blues about the loss of the simple life we enjoyed on holiday. But today, I feel reinvigorated and ready to move on.
I had planned to read the first draft of my novel so far (it still isn’t finished yet!) whilst on holiday and do a preliminary edit at the same time. Well, I did make a start but it was just too good to be on holiday so I didn’t finish it. However, I have just put in another hour’s work and feel really good for it. I am hoping to finish this within the next couple of days and also to review the comments I have received on Authonomy. If you fancy reading the first five chapters of my novel, the link is here. All constructive comments greatly appreciated 🙂
I am then going to try and use Scrivener to do my second draft but I think I am going to need a bit of time to work out how to use it to best effect. So, at least I have a plan in place and that’s making me feel much better and I have some great photos and memories of our holiday to keep me going too.
So, I am now more than 80,000 words into my debut novel, as you may know. But, I am stuck on the ending. After much reflection, I have realised that this is because I haven’t got the plot right. I am therefore going to take a reader’s advice and read my own novel to enable me to write down all the main events and perhaps, move things around a bit. I hope this will allow me to make it work and to decide on how to finish the story.
I am off on holiday on Thursday and I have printed out my novel (160 pages!!!! Two to a page though to save on paper ;)) to read and edit whilst I’m away. Please God, this will give me some clarity.
I have been feeling really miserable this week, thinking that my writing’s never going to be good enough to publish to the world but I have realised that I need to take pride in having written so much already and in only six months! I now feel ready to read and edit so that when I return, I should be raring to go.
Have a good couple of weeks everyone 🙂
P.S. I bought Scrivener with my 50% off code as a Camp NaNoWriMo winner and having used the trial version a while back, I hope this is going to help me organise my novel much more easily. Any hints and tips from other users would be much appreciated.