Createspace – it’s finally happened!

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coa-post-its

Anyone who’s been following my attempts to create a paperback from my eBook will know that I’ve been so very close for such a long, long time. 

But last night, I got confirmation that my first paperback had been despatched by Amazon.

All right, I was the one who’d purchased it, but it was for a friend and voluntary beta-reader in Canada. Thanks Michelle!

Perhaps I ought to call her an omega-reader, because this (he says) is going to be the very last set of changes I will apply to the MS. Discussions with my editor (hello Tara!) place the industry-acceptable rate of errors at 0.015%. Mine is currently averaging 0.005% but typos still get under my skin and I hate them and zey vill.not.be.tolerated!!

Not that I’m obsessive or CDO or anything… >.<

(For those that haven’t seen CDO before, it’s like OCD, but the letters are.in.the.correct.order. As they ought to be. :D )

Aaaaanyway, my first paperback has taken flight and ought to arrive within the week. I wait with baited breath for Michelle’s appraisal before I fix the dratted MS for one final time and close the chapter on the first book. Any remaining errors will have to be flagged up by particularly CDO-inclined readers of the future. I will simply smile quietly and say ‘I left that one in there especially for you, you clever thing.’

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acern270ginger write on

Oh, PS… I clicked ‘order’ on Tuesday evening (GMT), received a shipping notification the following evening and by Thursday afternoon, the book had arrived in Ontario! This was well inside Createspace’s ‘within 7 days’ estimate. Impressive!

 

 

 

Does a second book imply greater determination?

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image courtesy of Miklav at Stock Xchng

The first week my debut novel was listed on Amazon, back in 2012, I was buzzing with excitement – and personal pride. However, that feeling settled after a wee while and I began thinking about the sequel, which has now been over a year in the making. As the First, and then the Second Drafts dragged on, a mild sense of panic began to rise within me.

What if I can’t do this again?

What if the first book was all I had inside me?

And so, a renewed determination to finish the sequel arose. I would NOT be a one-book wonder. I wouldn’t end my days thinking ‘What a shame I only ever wrote the one…’ *croaks*

Sure, I’ve written many, many stories in my time. A lot of them have even begun paying me back for the time I spent on them. But a novel is something else, isn’t it? It’s the obelisk of the publishing world, the menhir of our career, the monolith…

Well, you know what I’m getting at. To me, the magazine articles I’ve written are fine, if a little thin, like single sheets of paper in a breezy doorway. My short stories (especially electronically-published ones) can feel like leaves in the wind, but in comparison, the novel is a bit of a cast-iron doorstep.  To have published one feels like a serious achievement; to publish a second means it wasn’t a one-off event and I really, really can do it.

And then, of course, there’s the pressure to sustain the output until the end of days. Once that begins, there’s no getting off the roundabout.

Can anyone else relate to this feeling?

.

acern270ginger write on 

 

CreateSpace – Part V of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback

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CoA post its

Well, my second proof copy has arrived from the USA and despite my best hopes, I’m still finding errors in the text. :(

I asked my significant other if she’d read through it for me… a fresh pair of eyes, and all that.  However, after five weeks of gathering dust (the book, not me!), I realised I’d have to undertake the task myself. *sigh*

After hundreds of read-throughs, I’m having real trouble concentrating on the text and find myself drifting along with the narrative instead.

Why, I keep wondering, do these text errors continue to plague my MS? I like to think I’m meticulous with my grammer and, speeling. I can only imagine the errors are typos I’ve somehow missed.

True, my typing isn’t perfect. As It gets faster, mistakes begin to appear, so I temper my speed to keep the typos down. However, impatience can sometimes bite and my fingers will get carried away, often typing faster than my brain (that only takes eight words a minute, usually!).

So this week finds me ploughing (yes, that’s how it feels after 500+ reads) through the paperback, hoping to upload and receive a corrected version before the end of July.

I have to – a couple of Floridian friends are keen to see a paperback copy in early August.

Anyway, back to reading…

In the meantime:

acern270ginger write on

When inspiration strikes…

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WP_20140503_012

Recently, an opportunity arose for a Saturday visit to York, the setting for ‘The Angels of York’ trilogy.

Well, it follows, doesn’t it? :D I had to go.

At the time, the final chapter and Big Battle scene was quietly pushing open the door, ready to peer into the room. I was happy with the way my characters had used the church I’d researched last year (as detailed in ‘Angels Week‘), but I didn’t want to stage an unholy battle between the denizens of Heaven and Hell inside a church. Too much damage. So as I headed into York on the city bus, I perused the city centre map in the hope that inspiration might strike – and it DID!

A diagram of the ancient (rebuilt many times) city wall leapt out at me, particularly the acute angle of the North-West corner. I decided to investigate – and found myself here:

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Very photogenic – and a distinct possibility for the site of an unholy battle.

Unfortunately, I’d taken a wrong turn in my attempts to find it. I was on the wrong street. York is a medieval maze of narrow twists and turns. I’d been steered away from my goal.

So I began again, paying closer attention to the street names, and finally found myself in this place:

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This is the outer section of the corner keep. Quite imposing to an attacking force, you might think.

Inside, it looked like this:

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Rather difficult to defend unless you were on your knees – or you happened to be called Tyrion Lannister.

Seems the Victorians who refurbished this part of the wall had little use for its defensive capabilities, preferring instead to reconstruct it into a viewing platform.

Still, I could envisage the possibilities of the battle in this setting and was satisfied that I needed to look no further. I took a few photographs and returned home to research the history of this section of wall.

I was able to make use of the new outdoor location almost immediately. Once my characters had finished with the church, the story picked up at the corner section of the wall in dramatic (I hope) style.

Apologies to English Heritage for all the damage I’m about to cause in the narrative. It IS necessary for artistic reasons – honest.

In other news, I am now typing furiously on my replacement Netbook, a Windows 7 version of my poorly Acer Aspire One.

Unfortunately, Acer issued this model with a set of flat keys, rather than the earlier chamfered type, which has led to an increased number of typo.

I’m struggling to get used to it and wish they hadn’t changed something that worked perfectly well for the sake of asthetics. :(

So, first draft now has its dramatic climax. On with the read-through.

Hope your writing is marching along too!

Introducing, for the first time… Ginger:

Be nice and say hi. He has rather large (virtual) shoes to fill.

.

acern270ginger write on

 

A Construct of Angels – the 2014 re-launch.

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CoA post its

It has taken many, many months of hard work, but the revised version of CoA (Kindle, ePub and Kobo) is finally ready to be shown to the world. The paperback is due to follow shortly afterward.

My editor, Tara Shaner and I have been bouncing the MS back and forth across the pond since July, and now, finally, we are both happy with the result. It’s fifty or so pages shorter, two characters lighter and a great deal tighter than before.

I’ve learned a great deal during the process of revision (old hands will nod sagely at this point, but bear with me).

An edit is not just about spelling and grammar. It’s as much about the flow as it is about the structure. It’s about plot threads and loose ends; developing characterisations as well as removing characters who either complicate or lend nothing to the plot. Pace, language and humour are also essential elements of an engaging MS.

I began 2013 with the certainty that after scores of read-throughs, my MS would be error-free and ready to roll.

No need for an editor, I thought.

I can do English. I know how to use punctuation.

I was so naive.

I’ve learned, by taking this long way around, that it really does take an outside and professional eye to spot repetitive or erroneous patterns in a Manuscript – and to offer solutions. A writer can become settled and overly accustomed to the flow of the story and (I have caught myself doing this at times) can tend to ‘read’ the story, rather than edit it objectively.

Be in no doubt that you may begin to question your own skill as a writer as overused words, inappropriate dialogue tags and pointless character actions are unearthed before your disbelieving eyes. ‘Did I really write that? What was I thinking?’

But a good editor should also indicate the places where your work shines, where the humour tickles and where the pace grips the reader. And whilst human nature will automatically remember the bad over the good, an indicator of  competent, nay, great work will help to soften the blow – as well as encouraging the writer not to throw in the towel.

I know where my towel is. :D

So the re-launch is imminent. Watch this space and if you can, please join me on my Author page for some fun, frolics and giveaways on Friday, 28th February.

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Five *star* review for CoA :)

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Stone Angel Reviews have just awarded ‘A Construct of Angels’ five stars.

Please drop by and read Riiva’s reviews as they happen and perhaps ask if she’d be interested in reviewing your book too!

This is a brand new site and I will watch its growth throughout 2014 with interest.

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If you’re struggling with that minority language called ‘British’…

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aleazzurro  keyboard

I have occasionally ecountered comments that pointed out my failings - one of them being misspellings.

My spelling ‘mistakes’ often get picked up on Facebook and (occasionally) on WordPress.

I like to think I’m very thorough when I’m writing and take pride in my spelling and grammar.

Yes, I soemtimes mis-type (who doesn’t?) as my ‘want to type’ speed exceeds my ‘able to type’ speed and my fingers become a pink blur above the keyboard.

However, when I begin to receive feedback that I ‘should check my speling’ (sic) and see one-word corrections for my spelling when there is nothing amiss, I begin to see red.

I’ve been told (more than once) that I use a lot of British English (BrE). Yes, that’s true. I’m British, my characters are English and their story takes place in England. That would follow, wouldn’t you think?

Apparently not.

Ciara Ballintyne appears to have the same problem and states her case here .

So recently, I’ve been writing British English, but with the knowledge that non-Brits may very well read my work. For instance, my character drives a Volvo ambulance instead of the (correct) locally-sourced type because only Brits would know what a Vauxhall Astra was. However, I don’t compromise on ‘labour’ or ‘honour’, ‘realise’ or ‘criticise’ because Brit readers would hate me for it. My characters use Pounds rather than Dollars. I was astounded when I was told that someone had to Google ‘Biro’ because it wasn’t clear that it was a ball point pen.  What are those cheap, crystalline ball point pens made by BIC known as in the US - BIC pens?

These are things we need to know…

British English

I had considered adding a disclaimer stating that the book contains ‘British English’ just to clarify. In this electronic age, the written word is spread far and wide and a novel in English could easily have been written in Australia, South Africa, Japan or any number of countries. I learned recently that along with Australia, Canada still uses BrE, which was a bit of a surprise. I wonder how many other countries do? I’d be interested to know that Britannia does not stand alone…

Write On!

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The editing continues – revisiting CoA (again)

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lucianotb remington

Sometimes, I’ve been extremely fortunate in my writing journey. When I’ve needed them the most, I’ve met people who have shown me that ePublishing is not only possible, but in some ways it is preferable to traditional publishing. 

During my year of querying agencies and receiving a whole basketful of raspberries, around the time I’d started to build my author platform, I quickly began to encounter other writers, some of whom were still querying, others who had decided to go it alone by self-publishing.

And as they proved to me that there is definitely hope after rejection, one author in particular steered me towards the tutorials that explained how I could complete the process myself.  Thanks Ryan!

I’ve also become friends with several other authors who went on to recommended exactly the right cover artist.

Thank you everybody! You are my guardian angels. Or at the very least, he recommended you all. :)

Now I am entering a new phase in my writing. By sheer chance, and some very fortunate timing, I have become friends with Tara, an aspiring editor who began by examining my first chapter, but went on to review the entire MS.  We are now working together on a complete and thorough edit of CoA.

When I wrote the post How to accept editing feedback I thought that accepting a professional critique would be much more daunting, but Tara has been fair as well as thorough with my MS.

She even likes my jokes… :)

As I write this, we have already made some major changes to the story and I now have several words to purge from the MS, on pain of nagging.

It seems that I use the words ‘just’, ‘like’ and ‘sigh’ a great deal (thanks, WordSmith!), to the point where it has begun to leap off the page at Tara. *Sighs* We are also discussing the intricacies of ‘forwards’ versus ‘forward’ and it looks as if I have sinned with ‘towards’ as well. Taking into account that I write in British English (BrE), we both understand that different rules apply on our respective sides of the Big Pond, but she may have me cornered in this instance. :)

However, Tara seems to enjoying the peculiarities of BrE and I’m slowly introducing her to some of our colloqualisms. I’ll soon have her speaking like a native of the UK and then we can be china plates for life!

Once we’ve finished my fish hook, of course. 

Toodle-pip!

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Published for a year…

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CoA post its

On October 17th, 2012, I clicked a button marked ‘Upload’ and sat back, nervously awaiting the delivery of a stream of electronic information to Amazon KDP. Twelve hours later, ‘A Construct of Angels’ was live and I realised that I had finally achieved my dream – to complete a novel and put it up for sale.

Thirty-seven years ago, I could never have dreamed that in this future age of flying cars, silver jumpsuits and daily trips to the Moon, my book would exist only as data and that it would be held in storage in a distant country. Readers would only have to tap it with their finger if they wanted to select, pay for and read it.

Cool.

I am still working to make the paperback version a reality, but with the recent bout of editing that I have subjected the poor thing to, that particular realisation has been delayed yet again. Configuring an electronic (Word-based) template with paragraphs, page breaks, chapters and the odd image isn’t as straightforward as it ought to be. *frowns* It’s now back with my new editor, Tara, after receiving some swathing cuts, including the complete removal of two characters.

In some ways, I hardly seem to have moved on at all. I am still editing and I really need to put A Construct of Angels to bed and pick up the sequel. But it will haunt me if my first book isn’t the best it can possibly be. Only when that’s sorted, can I let it go…

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, One Year On,  a great deal has changed for me in the last twelve months (plus I now have 300 followers - who’d have thought?) and I still can’t quite believe how much has been crammed into such a short space of time. I can only wonder what the next twelve months will bring, although I can’t imagine them being as crazy as the last twelve. The learning curve, I feel, is no longer as steep as it has been and for that, I am grateful. :)

Regular readers will know that my job sends me all around the UK. Well, by sheer chance, this week happens to have landed me back at the exact same desk from where I uploaded my book, one year ago. I am experiencing an eerie sense of deja vu – again.

It’s another reminder of what’s changed. If I could borrow Sandra Bullock’s time-travelling postbox (The Lake House), I would send my past self a message that says ‘hang on to your hat.’

Not that I wear a hat. I’m not Terry Pratchett. :)

Anyway, until Tara has finished looking over my new edits, I’m hoping to press on with the sequel,  ‘A Vengeance of Angels.’ I’d really liked to have completed it, one year on, but life has a peculiar way of rearranging even the best-laid plans of mice and authors.

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Apologies to Twitter followers

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I feel that I ought to extend apologies to everyone who has chosen to follow me on Twitter.

I finally found the time to get my Twitter account in order this weekend.

When I saw my stats I was stunned.

Before I began my long-overdue spring clean, they said;

Following; 197

Followers;  542

How does that happen? And why do 542 people think that I am worthy of their precious time to follow? Perhaps some of them are simply accumulating numbers. Others (and their profiles support this) are fellow writers and artists and have chosen to extend their writing  family -  and their contacts.

it’s encouraging to be part of such a large group and I hope to continue meeting new writers, readers, artists.

I’ve now addressed the imbalance, even making an effort to tilt it the other way. I’m currently following more than are following me, which generally seems to be the case with most Tweeters.

I intend to keep a regular eye on my stats from now on, so that anyone who chooses to follow will not have to wait (in some cases) three or more months for a return follow (unless you only Tweet about Stock Market shares or advertise cars).

Write on… or it you don’t write, then Happy Following! :)

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