Writing is not for the impatient

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patience mrsmas

It’s now just over six months since I self-published my first novel, ‘A Construct of Angels’ and I have learned many a lesson in just that short time – and I know that I still have much to learn before I finally end up in a long wooden box.

The first lesson, as the title suggests, is to have patience.

L-o-t-s of p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.

Writing is a long, slow process – even if you have just emerged, breathless, from a month-long NaNo sprint. Not only must you have patience in yourself in order to create that precious first draft, but you will have to watch and wait as your query letters flow first out, then back in as (hopefully) requests for the full MS or (more likely) rejection slips. There are many agents and publishers out there and the water must be tested with each one before moving onto the next. If you’re a nail-biter who doesn’t like to wait, then this will be a nervous time for you. Even if you choose to self-publish, then all the fun of formatting your book lies ahead.  And boy, does that take some patience!

The second lesson is to keep, keep, keep plugging away at spreading the word. Unless your sole ambition is simply to see your poem / artwork / novel listed on-line and you have no further desire to engage with it, you owe your magnum opus (or opus minus if you are less confident in its greatness) some degree of dedication towards seeing it flourish even briefly within the publishing world. As much as you’d love to imagine the scenario, there will not be a stampede of global proportions for your newly-published works. Yes, there could be an initial (and quite encouraging) surge as your friends, followers and family click ‘purchase’, but that interest is finite and unless you are very lucky, your eBook could languish in the doldrums for some time, only picking up the odd sale here and there.

Patience, my friend…spread the word as thoroughly as you are able via word of mouth and your (essential) author platform. If you tell everyone that you meet about your book, then you can rest a little easier knowing that you are doing everything possible to encourage sales. Last week, for example, I managed to generate some interest amongst the Polish community in North West England – something that seemed counter-intuitive at the time – because reading English-language books helps to improve their written English skills.

The third is to absorb every piece of advice from other authors, editors and publishers that you can. You don’t have to use it all as not everything will be relevant to your situation, but take note anyway. You never know when your self-published book might get picked up by a publisher and you suddenly need to know about contracts, or you may suddenly decide to begin giving away swag and have to find a printer or jewellery / fridge magnet maker in a hurry. There are always new skills to learn and the number of published authors is ever-increasing…as is the wealth of experience out there. Many of us have made mistakes, spent money unnecessarily or gone with the wrong publisher. Some are happy to relate their experiences and we owe it to them to pay attention and do things better. But all these lessons cannot be learned in a single day – and they do not arrive on our doormat in a brown-paper-and-string parcel. This is where our author platform becomes an essential tool, connecting us to our peers and more experienced colleagues.

Your book might be listed on Amazon / Kobo / Smashwords / Scribd (delete as appropriate) but at this stage the process is far from over. As my driving instructor told me on the day I passed my test; ‘Now you can really begin to learn how to drive.’

And so it is with publishing. Many lessons lie ahead – but so do many adventures.

keep calm plus author inside

Honoured to receive the Dragon’s Loyalty award

8 Comments

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Love that picture!

I was very pleased (not to mention surprised) when Briana Vedsted nominated me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

This was an award I’d not seen before so I was delighted when Briana chose to nominate me and my blog.

The rules for this award are:
1.         Display the Award Certificate on your website.
2.         Announce your win with a written post and link to whoever presented your award.
3.         Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.

4.         Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have liked them in the post.
5.         Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So here goes!

Seven interesting (I hope) things about me:

1.         Robin Hobb’s ‘Blood of Dragons’ might be the last paper book I will ever read…

2.        Writing has become my anchor in an otherwise chaotic life.

3.        I dislike the cold and grey of winter – but I love the snow!  How weird (S.A.D.) is that?

4.         I have a terrier who may have been an engineer in his former life.  He’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.

5.         I’m fascinated by sunsets and cannot stop taking photos of them.

6.         My biggest regret is having not pursued motor racing in my 20′s.  I still think I could have made a career out of it.

and…
7.         I can find peace and inspiration if I stop to watch running water.  Perhaps my Muse is a water-spirit…

And now for my nominees (I’m doing 10 instead of 15):

As it’s a loyalty award, I will nominate those who have been with me, who have encouraged me and stuck with me throughout my (and their) ups and downs…

Ryan Casey - without whom I may not have (self) published

Candace Knoebel - whose adventures have blazed a fiery trail!

Sonya Loveday - for her love, encouragement and inspiration here and on Facebook.

Jon at Jumpingfromcliffs - for keeping me going when things got sticky.

Michelle Proulx - for her zany (and often surreal) humour and for introducing me to the word ‘Woot!’

Pat at patwoodblogging - for her steadfast encouragement even when it snowed.

…plus a few newer followers with whom I have enjoyed much banter;

Karen Gadient - it seems we share much that is non-corporeal!

Daphnee at AnEvilnymphsblog - who is anything but evil (sorry, didn’t you want that known?).

Nightwolf aka KisaWhipkey - for encouragement via blog and Facebook

Fortyoneteen - thanks for your insight.

.

Please pass this award on to those bloggers who are deserving of a loyalty award.  We gotta stick together!

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untitled

How to find more bloggers like you…

5 Comments

Female student outdoors with computer

If you’re short on followers or don’t have many interesting blog posts appearing in your feed, a simple way to search for others who are writing about your interests is to explore via the bloggers that you already follow.

By commenting on your (I’m assuming here) small circle of bloggers posts, others will see those comments and perhaps be intrigued enough to search for you – especially if your comments are witty and / or informative. The more often you comment, the better your chances.

The flip side of this is that when you see a useful comment on a blog site, you can visit that blogger in one of two ways;

Click on the blogger’s name (beside their gravatar) blank Gravatar

and that should route you directly to their site.  You can then browse to see if their content is of interest to you.  If it is, ‘follow’ them, ‘like’ their posts (if applicable – if not, why would you follow?) or even leave a nice comment…which might intrigue other visitors to seek you out.  See how it works?  Caution – if you leave a comment without following too, your comment will most likely be held in a moderation queue pending approval by that blogger.  This will not only delay the posting of your comment, but a busy blogger may miss it altogether.  I know because I’ve discovered pending comments days after they were posted. :D

Another (sometimes less effective way) to find bloggers is to click on their gravatar.

blank Gravatar

This will route you to the bloggers gravatar page where you can read all about them – assuming they have posted anything.  Not everyone does and you can be left staring at nothing more than a larger version of their gravatar.

Note to other bloggers – please put some details on your gravatar!  Other bloggers are interested in you.

Here’s mine;

my gravatar

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I’ve tried to include as much relevant information on my own gravatar page so that I can be located on WordPress, Twitter, Goodreads, Twitter and LinkedIn.  To find my WordPress site, you’d only need to click on the site name, andrewtoynbee.wordpress.com.

However, even if a blogger that you are desperately keen to follow hasn’t posted any details (and one has to wonder why), the mighty Google can come to the rescue.  Simply copy (or memorise it if you’re good) their blogging name, open the mighty Google (other search engines are available if you prefer) and type ‘WordPress’ followed by their name;

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google wordpress

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Voila!

You can then click to find the site and ‘follow’, comment or ‘like’ as before.  The blogger may be kind enough to follow you in return and hey presto! you have increased your feed and your following in one simple move!

For blog sites that are not hosted by WordPress, you may have to be a little more creative, omitting ‘WordPress’ from the search and perhaps adding spaces in their gravatar name.  If you know which host they are using, add that into the search box instead.  Then, if you wish to follow their feeds, copy their web address, go to your ‘Blogs I Follow’ page and paste their URL into the box at the top of the page.  I’ve covered this in slightly more detail on my How to follow non-Wordpress blogs post.

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Happy blogging!

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untitled

Spread the word – linking your posts to other media

2 Comments

hoefi chain

If you have other social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and LinkedIn, it’s a straightforward matter to have your posts automatically repeated on them, saving you time and the hassle of re-posting each time.

If you want to utilise this, first open the appropriate social media page in another tab or window in the background first.  Depending on your browser settings, WordPress may auto-fill and save you having to re-type manually.

Stage One;

At the bottom of every post is a link to something clever called ‘Publicize’.  Pick a recent post, find the link and click on ‘Settings.’

stage one

Stage Two;

A selection of social media will appear in the next window as per the image below.  Or…

stage two

…if you haven’t any linked sites, you might see a series of social media options;

.

Click ‘Add new Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn (use as appropriate) connection.’

This should prompt a permissions box to appear.  I’ve shown the LinkedIn one;

stage three

This may auto fill as you begin typing, or you may have to complete both boxes, depending on your browser settings.  Either way, completing the box should take you to your social media page and allow you to link it to your subsequent WordPress posts.

Beware, though.  Using ‘Update’ on any older posts will cause them to be re-posted (as I’ve found to my cost), so use it sparingly, or your followers will be blasted over and over with your wit and wisdom! :D

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untitled

End of discussion – period

13 Comments

I was browsing Facebook when I found this link to theworldsgreatestbook.com.

As a child of the 1960′s (I must have been – I don’t remember being there), I was startled by this discussion.

Am I the only person here that still inserts two spaces after the full stop (period)?

:O

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untitled

Let’s play a little game…

8 Comments

ba1969 tag

You’ve been tagged!

Carissa of ramblingsofabipolarwoman recently tagged me in a little game, the rules of which are as follows:

Rules:
1. Post these rules. (check)
2. Post a photo of yourself (do I have to?) and eleven random facts about you. (check)
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post. (check)
4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them. (check)
5. Go to their blog/Twitter and let them know they’ve been tagged. (done)

Okay; Here’s a picture of me.  It’s not particularly recent, but I rather like the chap who’s standing beside me…I hear he likes Robin Hobb’s dragon stories.

me_and_dragon

I’ve got plans for a better pic that ties in with the Angel of the North, but that’ll keep for later.

11 facts about me:

1. I have a large collection of silly T-Shirts at home.

2. I have just had to accept the fact that I am ageing – by buying reading glasses!

3. This year I will be 49…but in my mind, 50 is the new 30! :D

4. If it wasn’t for my current job, I would probably never find the time to write.

5. I cannot concentrate on poetry…my eyes simply skip across it – but I am determined to change.

6. I have never lost the joy of watching falling snow.

7. I enjoy watching chick flicks.  Some of them, anyway.  My Best Friend’s Wedding was cool.

8. I enjoy making short YouTube videos [add a link?] by matching songs to modern movies.

9. If I was ever to visit the US, I would have absolutely no idea where to begin!

10. My MP3 is filled only with soundtracks and similar music.

11. I only recently discovered The Walking Dead and I am now a huge fan!

Now to answer the questions given to me by Carissa:

1. What is one of your fondest childhood memories?

Sitting beside a Scottish river whilst my parents fished for trout.  To this day, I can still find peace beside a river.

2. What town & country were you born in?

I was born in a town called Burnley in Northern England

3. What is something you HATE to eat?

Eggs – in almost any form.  It’s taken me years of determination to be able to touch an omlette or the yolk of an egg.

4. What is a talent you wish that you had or that you were better at?

I wish I could master a musical instrument – I love music, but learning the technicalities seems to take all the pleasure out of it.

5. Why did you join WordPress?

To journal my writing progress in 2010.  I didn’t post anything until July 2012.  Now I love it!

6. What is one of your most favorite dishes to make/eat?

Anything that has a cheese topping.  Lasagne and macaroni cheese is at the top of my list.

7. Where is somewhere you haven’t been that you’d like to travel to?

The US…

8. What animal do you think best suits your personality?

I’ve always felt an affinity towards bees.  They work from dawn till dusk without complaint, but always manage to stay under the radar.

9. Do you like sports, if so…what is your favorite to watch?

I used to watch motor racing - my favourite sport – but not since the UK’s TV coverage messed up.

10. Have you ever played a musical instrument, if so…what and if not, what you play if you could be taught?

See 4. above.  I think it’s best left to the professionals.  But if I was suddenly given the ability to play, I would like to be able to play either keyboard or a guitar.

11. What do you think your best qualities are?

Persistence and determination.  It’s served me well in my job and in my desire to be an Author.

11 questions that I will ask those I choose to tag…..

1. What was the last book that you read?

2. If you could retire within the next five years, to where would you like to retire?

3. What genre are you writing – and have you attempted any other genres in the past?

4. Fruit or chocolate?

5.  What stage is your current WIP at?

6. What colour is your hair – and your eyes?

7. Agent or self-publish?  And why?

8. What was the last movie you went to see?  With friends or alone?

9.  How long have you been with WordPress – and what was your first post about?

10. What can you see beyond your screen?  If it’s a wall, what’s immediately behind you?

11. Do you type head-down or head-up?

* * *

* *

*

ba1969 tag2

Tag along!

Now I’ve got to tag a few people and let them know that they’ve been tagged.

I hope that the following bloggers will join in the fun and pass the game along.  That way we can all learn a little more about each other!

.

Jon

Sonya

Candace

Ryan

Kisa

Pat

To anyone else reading this, feel free to participate and keep this going!

Jack versus Einstein

17 Comments

The question I am posing this week is this;

As writers, does it serve us better to be an expert – an absolute genius within a limited field…

…or a multi-skilled ‘Jack of all Trades’?

Having asked that, I will immediately concede that in order to write non-fiction and instructional works, a high degree of skill or expert knowledge is desirable.   But what about we writers of fictional works?

It took me a long time to reach my own conclusion on this.  Throughout my twenties and thirties (oh, such a long, long time ago) I harboured a mild, jealous resentment towards those who constantly excelled in their field of choice, grudgingly wishing them well whilst questioning those that administrated the Universe why it was that I struggled to master tasks, gaining only a limited skill (consistently in the top 1/3) in anything that I attempted.  I had immersed myself in many disciplines (mechanics, electronics, motor racing, sketching, painting, computer programming and numerous others) during those distant sepia-tinged decades, emerging each time without the satisfaction of having truly mastered the necessary skills.

It took me a long time to realise that whilst I couldn’t proclaim myself to be fully skilled in anything I attempted, I was able to turn my hand to a great many tasks – and take some pride at being reasonably competent at most of them.

Then I remembered a story my father told me about a pathologist he’d worked with.  The man in question was an expert in human anatomy.  He could dissect a body and proclaim cause of death without error time after time.  Often he could estimate the cause before he’d even touched the body (no, really!).  He would teach class after class of young proto-pathologists, leaving them staggered and wondering how they could ever match up to this great man.

He was an undoubted expert in his field.

But one day, following some car trouble and a rather large repair bill, he took my father (a mortuary manager and owner of a series of self-maintained cars at the time) aside, showed him the mechanic’s invoice and in a low voice he asked;  ‘What exactly IS a spark plug?’

It turned out that he was super-brilliant, but also limited in scope.

I have since learned to content myself with the notion that whilst I know very little about a great many things, I do know about a great many things.   The difference here is that, like a contestant on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire?’ one who still has their ‘phone-a-friend’ option, I know that there many people, reference sites and numerous sources of information available to me in the world today.

I don’t need to be expert in any particular subject - I just need to know that the subject exists and where to find out about it.  Then I can research it thoroughly enough to weave the facts discreetly into a story.

I have finally concluded that knowing even a little about a great many things is a very useful position to be in.

Makes me wonder if I’d been born with an ‘expert’ brain – would I have ever embraced writing?

How do you view this?  Are you particularly skilled and able to use that skill to your advantage in your writing?  Or are you happy to be a ‘trawler’ like me, sweeping the internet for information, happy to leave the specialism to other people?

I’d be very interested to know if I’m alone in this…

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n270 plus keep calm

Write on!

How to follow non-WordPress Blogs

10 Comments

This has frustrated me for a while – but now the answer is here!

how to follow blogs

If you’re not aware of this handy little WordPress instruction (that I found quite by accident), it makes the following of non-Wordpress blogs (and I have found many that I’ve had to follow by email instead) simple and straightforward.

How to follow blogs2

Just copy the web address into the URL box and presto!  More input into your ‘Blogs I Follow’ stream.

Apologies to everyone who’d already picked this up.  I hope this proves useful to anyone who hasn’t found it yet.

Write on!

Author interview with Draegon Grey

2 Comments

smoking man

I’ve just completed the first part of an author interview with Draegon Grey.  It surprised me how much fun something like this can be – almost like reliving the whole process of writing the novel over again.  Happy memories, the small problems that seemed so insurmountable at the time and the joy of completing the work…they all came flooding back.

The second part, a character interview with Sara Finn, my protagonist, will follow soon.

In the meantime, you can read the ‘Author Moment’ interview here.

Write on!

A new post about a new post

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workflow

If you are a planner, I imagine that the answer to my next question will be obvious;

What inspires you to write that next post?

If you’re a planner, you’ve probably got a list of ideas to draw from, a sequence of posts that lead from one to the next to the next and so on.  You may have a teaching plan that unfolds week by week to build into an exciting and informative series of articles.

But what if you hail from the Planet Pants?

sachyn planet

What if you happen to be an impetious and spontaneous fly-by-luck scatterbrain like me?

I can often go for weeks without any idea about what I will post next – aside from my regularly irregular and often-late Six Sentence Sundays.

And then, without warning, an idea will strike, coming out of nowhere like a thunderbolt on a clear summer’s day.

Quickly, ere I forget the subject matter, I will fashion a post from old wood and used pieces of string - and as I write, I often realise that I am trying to cover several subjects, several concepts within the same post.  Rather than (as they said in Top Gun) push a bad position, the disparate subjects will split into enough material to suggest several vaguely-related posts;  In other words, the fledgling post will create spin-off ideas; it will have babies.

A half-dozen little pink and hairless posts will suddenly begin to mewl and squeak and demand to be considered as posts in their own right.

rsvstks baby mice

So the fresh flurry of fledgling posts will be nurtured.  They will be a bit like my family - very loosely related and perhaps a little edgy.  There may be very little to connect them to previous or future posts aside from a single word or a faint, shining thread of thought.

That is why, dear reader, you may see groups of related topics appearing from me – sometimes two or three in one week.

Despite my endeavours to hold them back and release them into the wild one at a time, they will often break free.  When that happens, I am forced to watch helplessly as they circle the internet, scaring young women and inspiring modern Hitchcocks into making new movies a la noir.

But I’m interested to know; How does inspiration strike you?  Your system cannot be as haphazard as mine…surely?

Do you have a rolling plan of posts that stretch towards a vanishing point on the distant horizon?  Or is inspiration fired by a song on the radio, a news article or even another blog post?

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Write on!

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