Back on the Horse

I’ve finally wrapped up a tough work contract that absorbed all my time for the past ten weeks, with no more than a single day off in the past six. I knew going into the job that I would lose writing time, but I decided that the opportunity was worth the sacrifice given that the job was not expected to carry on for more than four or five weeks. Well, surprise—the work extended to more than double the expected duration.

Interesting thing about this particular film job: the period setting was identical to my novel-in-progress (England and the Colonies in the mid 18th century). The only difference was that the scripted colonial location took place in Virginia, whereas my novel unfolds in New York and Philadelphia. As an art director, I spent many hours neck-deep in research since part of my job is to match the look of the period. But while I took advantage of swimming in my own novel’s setting, I did not have the time to delve into my story.

How does one get back into a big story after such a long and intense break from the material? I always find the best way to get back into a project is to re-read the manuscript. The characters come to life and the story fills the mind again in a way that feels like getting into a freshly made bed. I’ve started tackling the 83,000 words I’ve put on the page to date. I’m enjoying the read, which is a good sign—and also see clearly where I need to do some re-structuring. Reading with fresh eyes is one unexpected advantage of having to take a break from a manuscript.

The timing of the end of my work contract lined up perfectly for taking part in NaNoWriMo again this year. I would have signed up if I were ready to start a new novel. However, I’m still working on an unfinished gap in the middle of the novel from last year. Instead, I’m doing “unofficial” NaNoWriMo. I’m writing every day, working to a word-count goal, and aiming to finish the middle of the book by the end of the month.

I’m finding it a challenge and suffering from immense blank page syndrome, but I’m glad to get back on the horse.

I’d be interested to hear how others deal with major interruptions in their work flow. Please feel free to share in the comments below.

 

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From a Flood to a Trickle.

I have to apologize to followers new and old for the gaps in posting.

I have been writing, but the minimal time I’ve had available of late has forced me to choose between working on the new novel or talking about the old novel. I have chosen the former.

Sales of Tempt the Ocean continue at a slow pace (very slow), but do continue. I confess I was thrilled when the earnings broke the two-digit milestone. Disheartening when compared to self–published authors who claim to make a living off their novels. I don’t know how they do it. I have to remind myself that it’s a mistake to compare my own progress to that of others.

One piece of advice I have: order a small number of printed copies to keep on hand. I never ordered a set of copies of my book to distribute by hand and that has been a mistake. I have since had people ask to buy a copy of my novel outright and have not been able to provide one. A colleague mentioned a book store in our neighbourhood that highlights local independent authors by selling copies directly, but again, I have none to sell. And when I had an opportunity to product-place my novel on screen this summer I had to pass it by since I did not have any copies to loan.

I have no news about making Tempt the Ocean available on other platforms outside Amazon.

I can say, however, that I managed to write a good 1400 words on labour day last week, and I’m plowing through a borrowed copy of A Storm of Swords so I can return it to the library in time. If I don’t have time to write at least I can read and post the occasional Tweet.

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Making Lemonade

It’s been two months since my last post. Oops!

I dropped my commitment to regular blog posts to transition back home where I hosted a house guest for several weeks, during which I bought a new laptop which failed shortly thereafter and then went through the process of transferring all my files a second time just as I started a new contract from home. Frankly I’m in disbelief that it’s been two months.

All of that is not much more than the excuses that are the enemy of writing. Getting back to WordPress today has been a fight but one worth winning. To make it easier I am taking advantage of the porch I cleaned up to enjoy my outdoors, bringing my new laptop out with me, and accompanying my effort with a glass of homemade lemonade. I recommend making everything as delightful as possible to break through the non-motivation barrier when writing!

During this transitional time, I am happy to share that my search for book reviewers paid off with a great review on a summer reading blog here. Sharing the review garnered much support and interest as hoped.

In related news, my time with Amazon Kindle Unlimited has expired. I can’t say that the exclusive publishing with Amazon did anything special for Tempt the Ocean, and I’m looking forward to expanding the novel’s market to other outlets such as Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, etc. I am saving the second round of publishing for when my contract is over, but stay-tuned for updates and promos.

While bouncing around the files of my current novel, I experienced a tiny epiphany as to the restructuring it required, and now know how to get from the second half of the middle to the beginning of the third act, which is already written. I’m relishing getting into the guts of mid-18th century New York, and my pair of star-crossed lovers.

Finally, let me share this simple recipe for lemonade, in the hopes it will help inspire:

Lemonade

Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a glass jar;

Include a bit of lemon rind, but omit seeds;

Add a tbsp of raw sugar;

Add in 1 cup of hot water and stir gently until sugar dissolves.

Let cool.

Pour a bit of cooled mixture (to taste, but no more than 1/4 cup) over ice in a tall glass,

Add cold water (I like sparkling), and voila,

Lemonade.

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Readers, Where Art Thou?: Blog Touring Pt. 1

After seeing the catch phrase “blog tour” many times, I figured I should find out what the term meant, since “blog touring” has been a heavily touted avenue for successful independent book promotion. I did some digging and discovered that Blog Touring is not what I thought.

I thought a blog tour meant roaming around the super highway searching out book readers (in my specific case, Romance readers). In effect, a search for blogs is part of a tour, but nailing that list of romance blogs happens long before the “Blog Tour” ever launches.

The aim of an efficient Blog Tour is the same as any mass promotion: hit the target market with as many instances of the new product as possible, making it familiar—and therefore friendly—and ultimately, desirable. If something is everywhere, it must be good.

The key proponent of a Blog Tour is to line up a number of book reviews and author interviews, or any other vehicle for author/book visibility like guest posts, such that all of those posts occur within a limited time frame. Each of those posts are blasting readers with the well-designed book cover you chose, so that when they see the cover for the third or fifth time they will click on the link to your purchase page and buy the book. A blog tour is a virtual book tour.

There are now exclusive blog tour companies who will organize the above, who have done the legwork and made the connections with the reviewers. They also charge plenty for the opportunity. For most start-up indie authors on a limited budget, paying someone else to set up a blog tour is out of the question. This is precisely why there is plenty of sage advice about establishing connections and drumming up interest before publishing occurs.

The shiny new novelty of blog touring has lost its sheen of late, likely due to the above, not to mention the huge number of self-published authors slamming small-time book bloggers with their wares. I don’t blame bloggers for taking a bit of cash in exchange for reviewing and promoting. However, I’m not a publisher and I don’t have the means.

I’ve missed the boat on blog touring for the first book (and for those twelve people out there who have read it… pun intended). However, I have every motivation to seek out readers by requesting reviews wherever I can, even with the publishing date behind me. My tour will be slow and therefore more of a fizzle than a blast.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the process of seeking out Romance readers, something I should be doing regardless.

Here are some of the Romance reviewers I have come across this week on WordPress:

https://romance4thebeach.wordpress.com/

(She only reviews books that one would take to the beach. Perfect. She also has a Twitter feed.)

https://tinyobsessions.wordpress.com/

(She reviews books, movies, TV, and loves travel. Perfect. Also on Twitter, etc.)

http://naughtymomstorytime.com/

(She’s a mom who likes naughty romance. Avid Reader. Big following. Great!)

http://onlyonemorepage.com/

(She reviews Romance, Fantasy, and Thrillers. Good coverage. Yes, pun intended.)

https://bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com/fiction-book-reviewers/romance/

(And finally… a link to a bigger list of Romance-specific review sites.)

I have begun the long process of review requests, and should I be lucky enough to have my novel reviewed I will either link or re-post the review here. If anyone reading this has a decent following and wants to review, let me know.

Next week I won’t be posting as I am going away for the Easter weekend.

Save the Date: Tempt the Ocean will be free for Kindle readers to download on March 31st . Read and Review the book!

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Breaking Through Some Writer’s Block

I didn’t realize I’ve been suffering from a bout of writer’s block until I broke through it last week. I’ll guess that’s because I’ve been writing around the block, instead of not writing at all.

Every writer suffers from writer’s block. I’m not mad at myself for hitting one. Running into a wall is an unfortunate part of the writing process. The important thing is to find a way through the blockage. I thought I’d share how I found mine in case it helps someone else.

I spent November writing the bulk of a new historical romance. I had committed to finishing within the month, and knowing the structure I also knew where I wanted to be in the plot on any given day (writing chronologically as I was). I anticipated a slow-down in the middle of the middle, so when the slump caught up with me I jumped ahead to the third and final section in order to reach the finale by the end of the month. At the end of November, always a dark month for me, I burned out and crawled into a hole until the holidays arrived. At the start of January, I began a new work contract away from home and looked forward to revisiting the manuscript and tackling that missing chunk. Except… I found more time to promote my finished novel and design my author page and blog a little and share an already-written excerpt. You catch my drift there… Writer’s Block!

Last weekend, with no more convenient writing distractions at hand, I procrastinated by eating breakfast while watching hours of YouTube and then went out cross-country skiing by myself. That sounds terribly non-productive, but here’s the thing: on YouTube I returned to a British TV show I’d discovered while researching my novel’s setting, a BBC show called “Renovation Home.” Part of the fun of the series is the show’s archive-digging into the home’s historical occupants and their lives. One of the episodes I watched reminded me that during the era of my novel’s setting, everyone corresponded by letter, and frequently. In my novel, my characters write, but I had not thought of using the physical trail of letters as a way to carry my plot forward.

After breakfast I headed out into the woods alone, my morning viewing simmering in my head. All those thoughts of correspondence and paper trails unravelled into a new path that my character could follow to get him where I wanted him to go. By the time I got back from skiing I knew how he escaped from the place I couldn’t get him out of, how he arrived at the place I couldn’t get him to, and how the people who met him there would know where to find him.

Thus, writer’s block dashed. I sat down when I got home and pummelled out 1000 words.

Returning to the source of research won’t work for everyone, but I found a revisit to source material very inspirational. Partaking in some methodical activity afterward where the ideas can fall into place works wonders. Going for a walk has always been a fall back for me when I’m stuck. My mind wanders and there’s probably something to the rhythm of walking that helps that happen. Skiing alone in the woods clearly does the same thing.

Feel free to comment below if you’d like to share your own way of breaking through writer’s block.

Next week I investigate promoting my novel via blog touring, and what the hell that means.

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