Day 12 NaNo Update

“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.”
–Jane Smiley

I saw this quote today and thought it was a timely reminder as I am currently writing the first draft of Ghost at the Cemetery. At a little under 6,000 words, I cannot say I am particularly happy with the result so far. In fact, I was feeling a little despondent this afternoon–until I saw this quote.

Yes, I can acknowledge this first draft isn’t great, but as long as I continue writing until I get to the end, I will be happy. The first edit will be HUGE! But at least I will have a (shaky) draft to work with.

I’m pleased that I can recognise the fact that I still have a lot of work ahead of me, especially when the first draft is done. Yet, I feel invigorated knowing that my brain is already working on the improvements I intend to make. And knowing that, the story I currently write is morphing in a slightly different direction than I intended to accommodate the changes.

My intention is to complete the first draft by 30 November. I am on track to reach that goal.

Grammar: Things to Remember

Numbers:

  • All numbers between 21 and 99 (except 30, 40, 50, etc) should be hyphenated. Examples: Twenty-three and two hundred and eighty-nine.
  • Numbers should be written in full at the start of a sentence.

One or Two Words:

anyone = any person
Hint: Try replacing the word anyone with any person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use any one.

everyday = normal
Hint: Try replacing the word everyday with normal. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every day.

everyone = every person
Hint: Try replacing the word everyone with every person. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use every one.

maybe = perhaps
Hint: Try replacing the word maybe with perhaps. If it sounds right, it’s the correct word. If it does not sound right, use may be.

Okay, I think you get the gist of it. Do the same thing for the following words:

nobody = no person (if it doesn’t sound right use no body)
everybody = every person (if it doesn’t sound right use every body)
sometimes = occasionally (if it doesn’t sound right use some times)

Confusing Words:

Affect = to change (Hint: Try using to transform instead of affect.)
Effect = outcome, consequence or appearance (Hint: Try using either outcome, consequence or appearance instead of effect.)

Allude = refer to indirectly
Elude = to avoid

Already = prior to a specified time
All ready = completely prepared
Hint: The word ready can replace all ready but not already.

Alright = is a nonstandard variant of all right and all use of the word should be avoided.

Bare = exposed
Bear = for every other use except when the meaning is exposed

Breathe (rhymes with seethe) = inhale and expel air from the lungs
Breath (rhymes with death) = the air inhaled or exhaled during breathing

Fewer = not as many, when there is more than one item (i.e. fewer animals)
Less = not as much, when there is one item (i.e. less time)

Lead (rhymes with seed) = to lead, being in charge
Lead (rhymes with bed) = a metallic element
Led (rhymes with bed) = past tense of to lead

Licence = UK/Aus use this word, relates to card/papers
License = US only use this word, relates to allow
Hint: Try using card or papers. If it sounds right use licence. If it doesn’t, use license.

Passed = past tense of to pass
Past = used at all other times
Hint: Try using went past. If it sounds right use passed. If it doesn’t, use past.
But: If the word has is before passed (might be a word or two before), try using gone past instead. If it sounds right use passed. If not, use past.

Grammar: The Parts of Speech

If we examine the words in any sentence, we observe that they have different tasks or duties to perform in the expression of thought.

Savage beasts roamed through the forest.

In this sentence, beasts and forest are the names of objects; roamed asserts action, telling us what the beasts did; savage describes the beasts; through shows the relation in thought between forest and roamed; the limits the meaning of forest, showing that one particular forest is meant. Thus each of these words has its special office (or function) in the sentence.

In accordance with their use in the sentence, words are divided into eight classes called parts of speech,—namely, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections

  1. A noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. Examples: John, brother, Sydney, table, car, anger, song.
  2. A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun. It designates a person, place, or thing without naming it. Examples: I, he, she, that, who, myself, themselves, it, which.

    Nouns and pronouns are called substantives. The substantive to which a pronoun refers is called its antecedent. Some examples are:

    Frank introduced the boys to his father. [Frank is the antecedent of the pronoun his.]

    The book has lost its cover. [Book is the antecedent of the pronoun its.]

    James and Peter served their country in different ways. [Their has two antecedents, connected by and.]

  3. An adjective is a word which describes or limits a substantive.

    The noun box, for example, includes a great variety of objects. If we say wooden box, we exclude boxes of metal, of paper, etc. If we use a second adjective (small) and a third (square), we limit the size and the shape of the box.

    Most adjectives (like wooden, square, and small) describe as well as limit. Such words are called descriptive adjectives.

    We may, however, limit the noun box to a single specimen by means of the adjective this or that or the, which does not describe, but simply points out, or designates. Such words are called definitive adjectives.

  4. A verb is a word which can assert something (usually an action) concerning a person, place, or thing. For example:

    The Wind blows.
    Tom climbed a tree.
    The fire blazed.

    Some verbs express state or condition rather than action.

    The treaty still exists.
    Near the church stood an elm.

    Sometimes a group of words may be needed, instead of a single verb, to make an assertion. This is called a verb-phrase.

    You will see.
    The tree has fallen.
    Our driver has been discharged.

  5. An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.

    Example: “The river fell rapidly,” the adverb rapidly modifies the verb fell by showing how the falling took place.

    Most adverbs answer the question “How?” “When?” “Where?” or “To what degree or extent?”

    Adverbs modify verbs in much the same way in which adjectives modify nouns.

    Example:
    Adjective: A bright fire burned.
    Adverb: The fire burned brightly.

    Adjective and adverbs are both modifiers. Adjectives modify substantives; adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.

  6. A preposition is a word placed before a substantive to show its relation to some other word in the sentence.

    The substantive which follows a preposition is called its object.

    A preposition is said to govern its object.

    In “The surface of the water glistened,” of makes it clear that surface belongs with water. In “Philip is on the river,” on shows Philip’s position with respect to the river.

    A preposition often has more than one object.

    Over hill and dale he ran.
    He was filled with shame and despair.

  7. A conjunction connects words or groups of words.

    A conjunction differs from a preposition in having no object, and in indicating a less definite relation between the words which it connects.

    In “Time and tide wait for no man,” “The parcel was small but heavy,” “He wore a kind of doublet or jacket,” the conjunctions and, but, or, connect single words time with tide, small with heavy, doublet with jacket.

  8. An interjection is a cry or other exclamatory sound expressing surprise, anger, pleasure, or some other emotion or feeling.

    Interjections usually have no grammatical connection with the groups of words in which they stand; hence their name, which means “thrown in.”

    Examples: Oh! I forgot. Ah, how I miss you! Bravo! Alas!

Source: An Advanced English Grammar with Exercises by George Lyman Kittredge and Frank Edgar Farley, 1913. Now in the public domain.

Difference between “passed” and “past”

Recently, I came across some old critiques other people had written about my work. It was much like walking down memory lane, but for one thing…

I noticed a trend that I don’t think I picked up on at the time. Now, I am worried that I still don’t “get it”. What trend? Well, what is the difference between “passed” and “past”?

I know “passed” relates to movement and “past” relates to time. No issues there. However, when we start talking about adverbs and prepositions, the confusion sets in. Is it?

A lot of ambulances have gone passed, or,

A lot of ambulances have gone past.

Well, “gone” is a movement word and so is “passed”. There are two movement verbs in the one sentence, when you only need one, so the correct one is “past”.

Thanks to Grammar Monster I think I’ve got it straight in my head now. And it’s all because of the following top tip:

Substitute with Went Past

When referring to movement (i.e., not passing tests or handing stuff over), only use passed when it is the past tense of the verb to pass. To test whether passed is correct, substitute it with went past. If your sentence still makes sense, then passed is the correct version.

  • He passed the shop.
  • He went past the shop. (Still makes sense – passed is correct)
  • He skipped passed the shop.
  • He skipped went past the shop. (Not correct – passed is wrong)

Substitute with Gone Past

On occasion, it may be necessary to use gone past to test whether passed is correct. This is because passed is also the past passive participle of to pass.

  • He has passed the dockyard.
  • He has gone past the dockyard. (Still makes sense – passed is correct)

Is it worth trying to pre-sell a book?

This is a question most indie authors would ask themselves at some stage. From the research I’ve done, pre-selling your book before it is released can give you the opportunity to begin building buzz and anticipation. You could get a jump start in sales and start building a fan base. In theory, by the time your book is released, your pre-sales could even place your book in the best selling charts!

Sounds great, but where does one start in achieving this?

Firstly, you have to write a book. Obvious, I know, but it is a necessity.

Once the book is written, it’s time to set up your pre-sale campaign by creating a sales page on your website. Spend time in writing a worthy description. Ensure your book cover stands out and draws the reader in. And if you have them, or can get them, compile testimonials.

These days, everyone wants and loves something for nothing, so offer a freebie with your pre-sale. This could be a free short-story, written by you or a writing buddy (this is a good way to help other authors too). Maybe you’ve got some resources or templates that you can offer. Put some thought into it and be a bit creative. The free item could possibly draw more readers to your book.

Offer your pre-sale readers the opportunity to read the book before the rest of the world gets hold of it. Allow them two or four weeks to read and, hopefully, review your book. They get first glimpse and you might get a review. It’s a win-win opportunity.

Think about offering a limited edition of the ebook to anyone who pre-orders your book. Perhaps include extra material or a different cover, or a coupon code for a discount for your next book.

Don’t forget to include a ‘buy now’ button on your sales page. How can people pre-buy if there’s no purchase button?

And once you’re all set up. Announce the pre-sale on your website and through email. And share it on Facebook, Twitter, and through any other online group you belong to. Start the buzz and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.

The Sydney Writers Festival – Live and Local

I work in Wollongong and walk passed Wollongong Town Hall every day. They have some great events advertised and sometimes I feel like going along to a classical music afternoon, or a nostalgic step down memory lane, but I usually can’t because these events take place while I’m at work.

However, yesterday I noticed a different type of poster — Writer’s Festival. Yes, that got my attention, but I was in a hurry so kept walking. Today, I paused and read the poster properly and decided to look it up on the internet when I got home. Which I’ve now done.

On 5 May, a Saturday, there will be a writer’s festival. It’s an all day event with multiple sessions writers (or non-writers who are just interested in words) can attend. Whilst it is streamed live from the Sydney Festival, there will be talks and a workshop by local writers. If you’re an aspiring writer, and you’re based on the South Coast of NSW, then you might be interested in this event.

Go to The Sydney Writers Festival – Live and Local for session details and times.

Available Now: Manuscript to Ebook Conversion Service

Are you an independent writer who wants to publish their own books but need help with part of the process? If so, I may be able to help.

It might be that you don’t feel confident preparing your manuscript for conversion to an ebook. Or, you simple don’t have the time. Well, I have converted many manuscripts to ebook and I am now offering my services to you, at a very low price.

If the cleaning process is not done properly, the author will be disappointed with the results and the reader won’t bother reading the actual story because it will be too difficult. Why? Because when we use writing software, everything we do is placing secret coding in the background. The author might sometimes use a tab at the beginning of a paragraph or sometimes spaces. Perhaps half way through indents are discovered and used instead. Some headings might use 14 pixels while others 12 or 16. There might be a * between some scenes, but *** or * * * between others. If all this is not unified and that code is not removed, it will play havoc in your ebook conversion and the end result will not look pretty. Or professional.

That’s where I come into the picture. I can prepare or clean your manuscript so that it can be converted to an ebook; and it will look professional. An ebook you can be proud of without the stress of tying to do it yourself. And I will do this for only $20 for a fiction manuscript and straight forward non-fiction manuscript. Contact me for a price if you have a non-fiction manuscript and are not sure if it’s straight forward or not.

Then, once your manuscript is clean, for an additional price I can format and convert the manuscript to an ebook. You will get three versions — epub, mobi and pdf. I will create the additional pages you will need. Your will approve these pages before I continue on to the conversion stage. After conversion, I will test your ebook on several readers to ensure they look great.

If you want more information or you want to place an order, refer to the following pages:

For Hire: Manuscript Formatting and Conversion to eBook Service

FAQ: Ebook Formatting and Interior Design

Order Prepare and/or Format & Convert Manuscript to eBook

Writing Notebook or Virtual Notebook

In my last post I reported that I have finally finished writing The Lion Gods. That was on 13 February and I have put it aside for two weeks before I start the editing phase.

But what have I been doing in the meantime?

Well, some years ago a friend showed me how to use a wiki for research notes. At the time, I used pbwiki because I was into Linux. However, when I returned to Windows I moved to Tiddlywiki.

Over the last ten or so days I’ve reconnected with wiki note keeping. PBwiki is online and whilst that is great for easy access from anywhere, I now prefer to install Tiddlywiki on my laptop for private use. (It’s amazing how tastes change over the years.)

In the thirteen years since I first started using a wiki, the base wiki system has improved and morphed into something I wasn’t used to working with. So, I downloaded Classic Tiddlywiki, which I believe is the best, but that’s just my opinion. You may feel differently.

I have been using a notebook for my writing research and notes. I have many of them. All of different shapes, sizes, colours and uses. I have them for planning a specific novel, for publishing notes, for writing tips in general and general research. It works fine, but they are bulky and take up room that I really don’t have now that we’ve downsized.

I remembered Tiddlywiki and decided to transfer my writing notebooks into virtual notebooks. I could have one wiki with everything, or I can have several wikis for specific things just like I have actual notebooks. The choice is mine.

And now that I have two screens, I can open the wiki of my choice on one screen and write on the other. I can refer to the wiki when I have a senior moment and can’t remember the character’s favourite thing or what the object was that they found, or what their sibling’s name is. Or I can open my publishing wiki if I want to refer to a checklist when doing edits or special notes when preparing an epub, or whatever. Then I can go to my general research wiki and find out what I discovered about riding a horse or archery or survival in freezing conditions, etc. It’s brilliant.

The other great thing about using a wiki, is that I can keep it up to date. Old notes can be updated easily, incorrect information deleted. I won’t have to flip through heaps of pages trying to find the reference I’m looking for. And I’ll have a neater workspace in general.

I should have done this years ago. How do you keep track of your writing research and notes?