Writing Update

My blog seems to have turned into a book review website over recent months. I read regularly and try to write reviews for every book that I read (including paperback, epub or audiobook). For two reasons: 1) it’s a brilliant way to keep track of the books I’ve read, and 2) I like to share my opinion so that other readers might be encouraged to read the books too.

I love to read, but I love to write too. Yet, writing posts seem to be few and far between. I would not blame you for thinking that writing isn’t on my agenda. How wrong you are.

My writing is going well. I released Domino Effect at the beginning of the year and House on the Hill in July. And now I’m working on a mini-fantasy collection. The title is uncertain right now and will be announced at a later date. What I can tell you is that there will be four short stories. All fantasy themed. I’m pleased with the way they are developing. There is no release date as yet, but I am hoping that it will be before the end of the year.

2020 will be a big year too. I have two projects intended for release. The first will be Ghost at the Cemetery (another Cat and Mouse Adventure). The second is a personal favourite of mine. Something I’ve worked on for nearly three decades! I won’t share the details of that one yet, except to say that it is a fantasy full-length novel. I’m excited to finally publish it soon though.

A well known Australian author, Fiona McIntosh, once gave me some really good advice. It was at the time I was organising and publishing a number of anthologies. She told me that what I was doing was good (for other authors) but she told me not to forget about my own writing. I didn’t see it then. I thought I was still writing, but in truth, I was not. I rarely wrote a word at that time.

Everything happens for a reason. Things in my life changed, I changed with it because I had too. Now, things have changed again and it has allowed me to find my way back to writing. And I am embracing it. I write at least five days out of seven, often seven days out of seven. And I love it.

I may not be here, on my website, writing page after page of posts. That’s because I am where I am meant to be. I am sitting at my desk writing stories–long and short. And I’m loving it!

Why I Write

Everyone is different. Everyone finds peace and tranquility in different ways. Some like to go fishing, bush walking or jogging. Others like to surround themselves with friends and go to parties, picnics, or out clubbing. And then there are those who prefer to meditate, read, or sew. Me? I like to write.

I started writing to escape the real world. That’s why I started out writing fantasy stories. I could go somewhere nobody would ever find me. I could experience anything my imagination was brave enough to conjure. As a result, I wrote for me alone. No one, ever, was ever meant to discover my worlds and find me.

But then I no longer had to escape. The real world became a good place to be, so I no longer had the desire to “disappear”. As a result, I stopped writing.

Yet, once I had started, I found it difficult to give up. The necessity was gone, but the desire remained. And I also discovered that I wanted to share my worlds. The written word called to me. It was easy to respond and return to writing.

It wasn’t an easy journey. Writer’s block caught hold of me, or so I thought. In fact, difficult and sometimes horrible events in my life disguised themselves as writer’s block. The pain and grief I felt took me over, leaving me feeling exhausted and worthless. It took me a while to recognise the true “block” was of my own doing. And when I acknowledged that, and accepted it, I began writing once again.

Someone once asked me if I wrote to become rich and famous? Even now I laugh at that. Very few writers become rich and famous authors. Very few indeed.

I want neither fame nor fortune. You scoff at that, I know, but it is true. However, I do want people to read my books and enjoy them. It would be nice to earn enough money from my writing to live comfortably. But I am a reserved person, who enjoys not being “seen” and I honestly do not feel I would cope well with fame. The fortune would never go astray, of course. But you cannot have one without the other. And I enjoy being alone too much, so I do not want fame.

Why do I write? I write to share words, worlds, ideas and characters. I invite the reader into my worlds, hoping they find something they like. And although I no longer feel the need to escape this world, sometimes it is still fun to wander into other worlds and live a life that would never be possible here. Besides, as a reserved person, writing allows me to be braver, louder, and more outgoing than I would ever be in real life.

Why do you write?

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)

New Project for 2019

With the publication of Domino Effect happening in early January 2019, I will be left with no option but to move on to the next project.

For me, it’s an old project. Actually, it is the first manuscript I wrote … and finished. It’s a story I love. The characters are like old friends, whom I know extremely well. And it’s time this baby of mine came into the limelight.

What is the name of the project? Good question.

It has gone from many names over the years. As I don’t want to confuse issues, I will only mention the name it is known by now — Whispering Caves. At present, I will say this is the working title as it may, or may not, be changed before publication.

Whispering Caves is a fantasy novel. Some might describe it as a Time Travel Romance, but that would not be exactly right. The main character does not go back in time, but side-ways. And although there is romance, the focus is the adventure, the danger, the confusion, the main character goes through.

I must admit that I am looking forward to working on this novel. There are many versions. In 2019, I will decide which one I will go with and start the manuscript on the road to publication. Watch this space.

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.

Editing: Phase 1 – Listen!

The Lion Gods has entered the first editing stage. Everyone does things different. My recommendation is to do what feels right for you. Normally, I would read through the story first, making notes as to problem areas such as random sub-plots that go nowhere, scenes that make no sense, and other ‘jump out and smack you in the face’ sections of the story and/or character plots.

This time I thought I’d try something different. I thought I’d use the text to speech function on my laptop and allow the computer-generated voice to narrate my manuscript back to me. I set the voice so it wasn’t too slow as that would be mundane and could easily put me to sleep. 😀 Yes, the voice is monotone and emotionless, but that worked well as it helps make problem areas really stand out. Actually, I was surprised by how well it works. I’d be listening to this expressionless voice just speaking the words at an even pace and suddenly weird stuff would be said and I’d think “Ah, what’s that supposed to be” or if the words were right “that sounds awkward”. I’d make a notation in my notebook and, I must say, I have a (big) list.

I’ve listened to the entire manuscript in this way, making notes. And now I’m ready to go into Phase 2 – Fix Up.

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?

Update from My Writing Desk

It’s the second month of the year already. Time flies when you’re having fun … or just when you’re older. Not sure which is truer these days.

Today, I’m glad to say that during the month of January, I averaged about 800 words per day. It may not sound inspiring to you, but to me that is one hell of a job well done. I am super proud of myself.

I’ve been working on Book 3 of The Land of Miu series, The Lion Gods. And, I might add, I am very close to writing those magic words “The End”. I should finish the first draft by the end of February. In fact, if I continue with my current average, I should finish it by mid-February. Then the editing stage begins. Without putting pressure on myself, I feel as if I will meet my goal.

In other writing news, the consistent writing has also awakened my mind to thinking about other ideas. I’ve written them down, but refuse to allow them to distract me from my goal. However, the ideas are quite vivid and I find myself thinking about how I might expand the ideas into another series for young readers. But this set of ideas will remain just that for the time being. Perhaps I will do something about writing these ideas when I’m in editing mode to give myself a break. I’m not sure yet. All I know for certain is that I do not want to lose the consistency of writing every day. So maybe writing 800 words for this idea and editing for an hour or so each day may be the way for me to go. I’ll see.

Lastly, I’m super excited to say that I purchased a cover for another of my manuscripts, known here as Mirror Image, but will be published with the title “Domino Effect”. The first draft of the manuscript is complete. This one is NOT for kids. It’s a very dark novel for adults. Totally the opposite to the stuff I write for kids. I have done a read through and corrected obvious errors, but that was in 2015 and my plan is to work on this one after The Lion Gods has been published.

Question: Do you like to write one project while editing another?