What I’ve learned from Ghostwriting.

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As I pass another significant milestone in my (crazy?) attempt to write one million words in two years, it occurred to me how much my outlook on the craft of writing has changed in eighteen months.

(Image: At night, by Georg Charwat)

In 2015, I embarked upon my personal challenge to write half a million words before the year ended. By the end of December, I was able to claim 502,000 words written in the form of stories, outlines and synopses. I’d fully intended to throttle back in 2016, but a busy first few months saw the numbers continue to rack up. As March came around, I realised I was already on target to complete 125,000 in the first quarter (4 x 125k = another 1/2 million, yeah?).

So I thought, why not go for the full million?

Yes, I know I planned to calm down in 2016, but my momentum was building, and by July, I’d achieved 3/4 million, and was (almost) on target to complete the full million by the end of the year.

It was an irresistible target.

*Pauses for breath*

Those who know me will have noticed I’ve been less active on social media and blogging since I began this crazy journey. Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the day, and something had to give. But just so you know, I’m planning to throttle back, to calm down, and take it easy with the writing in 2017.

Maybe. 🙂

But eighteen months of writing at near-NaNo pace has taught me many things.

First of all, I realised I needed to be organised.

Although my spreadsheet is not yet as graphic as the one on the NaNo site…

graph

…I managed to put together a useful sheet that charts every word I write, although it still lacks the nicety of a graph(I will address this soon).

At the end of each day, I have a list of stories, both current and historic, on which I manually insert the word count of the project I’m working on, and it updates this, the daily count sheet.

target screen shot 2

A third sheet then tells me how many words I still need to write in order to reach my target of one million.

target screen shot 1

If I write less, the requirement rate rises. If I have a good day, and manage to write a few thousand, the requirement rate falls. You get the idea.

Without this, I would have little idea of my progress, and couldn’t plan my writing targets. Heck, if I hadn’t counted up how much I’d written in the first place, I could never have aimed for the half-million!

The uppermost spreadsheet allows me to chart my slow days, and my best days. Most of my writing happens mid-week, so I have an additional target cell for the ‘four day week’ period. If can fulfil those days, the rest of the week takes care of itself.

The second thing I learned was the need for self-discipline. It’s a quality needed by any writer who is serious about their craft. You might already know this, you might be learning this the hard way, or you might be blissfully unaware of the need, in which case, enjoy writing at your own pace. It’s wonderful, but not necessarily productive.

For me, the spreadsheet keeps me motivated. Creating a target of one million words is a harsh motivator, but an effective one. It’s quantifiable. If I don’t work hard, my assigned workload creeps up, and if left unchecked, it would reach a point where it becomes impossible. For now, 1,600 words per day is feasible, although I would have preferred it to be lower. That will only happen if I increase my output, but I only have a finite number of free minutes in my day.

You might prefer to set yourself number-of-chapter targets, or number-of-minutes per day targets. Work with whatever fits best into your life. For me, the word count ties in nicely with my short story work, which is measured (and paid) by the number of words produced.

The third thing I became aware of was the need for constant inspiration. My clients, for the most part, leave the subject matter up to me, although I’m supplied with a few words to point me in the right direction (e.g. romance, adventure, vampire, shifter, werecat, paranormal, time travel, sci-fi etc). This means I constantly need to dream up new scenarios for as-yet unwritten characters, and the stories must differ enough from each other to avoid brain-mashing confusion as well as potential plagiarism (of my own work!) issues.

The plus side of this is I often end up with spare story ideas, which I can then use to create short stories under my own name. Several times, I’ve begun writing for a client, only to realise the story has greater potential for an extended series, so why waste the idea on a one-off?

With that in mind, I keep the proto-series idea for myself, and write something new which better suits a one-off HEA (Happy Ever After) tale.

Win-win. 😀

Finally, I had to embrace closure. Seasoned writers will appreciate how it’s possible to get close to characters, to want the best for them and leave them happy (or not, depending on the genre). Perhaps it’s so difficult to let them go, that sequels spring up, even a whole series. Not so with Ghostwriting. It’s necessary, even essential to learn to let go. Once they’ve flown the nest, they never write, never call and very rarely do they return for new adventures. I have fond memories of some of my creations (my Valkyrie women, to name one), but they’re gone, and I must move on…

I’d be interested in hearing from other ghostwriters who haunt the blogsphere. What has writing for others taught you? Do my experiences ring true, or do you feel differently?

Now I must return to my laptop and fulfil my allocation for the day (2,821 words) or I’ll fall further behind (it’s been a slow week).

I wish you all well in your endeavours.

If you enjoy it,

you should;

acern270ginger write on

PS I’ve now added a graph to illustrate my progress better. Plus, it adds a little colour. And it illustrates graphically that I’ve fallen behind my target. 😦

screen shot progress graph

‘A Fury of Angels’ is now available for pre-order

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April sees me unusually organised with my work.

With ‘A Fury of Angels’ out for beta reading, I’ve already listed the book provisionally on Amazon, and its now available for pre-ordering, should anyone be keen to read it. 🙂

There’s plenty of time for me to make final changes to the MS before it goes live, but I thought I’d set myself a publication deadline in order to get this, the final story in the (first) trilogy completed and put to bed.

Put to bed? Nah!

It ought to be rising with the lark, ready for the day ahead, its tummy filled with tasty breakfast!

Just to demonstrate that Amazon’s pre-ordering system works, I found this whilst browsing:

A Fury of Angels japan

Also available for pre-order in Japan. Don’t you love the 21st Century?

Have a great day!

I must now Write On. Half a million words aren’t going to write themselves!

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Half a million words in a year?

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source; Stock.Xchng

source; Stock.Xchng

Back in June, I wrote a blog post about my aim to achieve Quarter of a Million words by midsummer. That particular goal was achieved, and more, so I looked ahead and wondered if it would be madness to aim for half a million before the end of 2015.

Crazy, I thought. Half a million?

Now, at the time of writing, I’ve somehow (and it still amazes me) racked up 410,000 real words, most of them the in order right.

(Yes, I know I did the same joke back in June) *shrugs.*

So, at this point, half a million words before the year end seems achievable. My target for the end of September (this week), if I had been writing consistently, was 375,000. Bang. Blown that figure out of the water.

How have I been able to put down so many words this year? Having a whole string of short stories to write has been a major part of this, leaving me with no shortage of writing material. Got a block? Simply skip over to another story until the block passes.

The downside of all this is that my third book, and the last in the trilogy, ‘A Fury of Angels,’ has slipped behind schedule, so if I’m to complete it in time for my editor to savage (kidding!) in January, I need to put aside at least a month to complete it.

If only I had a cloning machine…

Andrew Toynbee logo

Second paperback almost completed

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jpeg Voa

Those of you who have been reading my posts for a while may remember the troubles I had with my Createspace version of ‘A Construct of Angels.’ Many hours of format tweaking and two proof copies shipped to England from the US finally produced a paperback I was happy to sell.

With my second novel, I have applied the lessons learned and the formatting was completed within a week. A proof copy has been ordered and I hope to hold it in my hands within ten days – less than three weeks after my eBook was released. What a difference a year makes!

I’m also trying something new with this cover – endorsements. Two other indie writers, Candace Knoebel and Sonya Loveday have agreed to let me reproduce their glowing beta reader comments on the back cover. I’m hoping this will do two things. The first is to encourage people to buy my book (always a motivating force), and the second is to provide a little exposure for the ladies as a thank-you. They have both been hugely encouraging over the past three years, helping to propel me towards completing my debut, then my second novel. I’ve enjoyed reading books published by both writers and I’d recommend them without hesitation to other fans of YA fantasy.

Ladies. thank you, and:

acern270ginger write on

 

US Book Blast! (Limited numbers)

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Although we now live in a world of electronic books, there remains a healthy number of people who prefer the smell and feel of real paperbacks (and hardbacks, lets not forget) and would always choose the physical over the virtual.

To that end, I was persuaded to produce a paperback version of  ‘A Construct of Angels’ so that these traditional readers could also enjoy (I hope) my written word.

With the help of my US writing bestie, Sonya Loveday, two boxes of freshly-printed copies have now arrived in the US.

CoA paperback arrival

The first fifteen peeps to order one of these books will receive a signed copy, plus bookmark, plus a choice of miniature ‘Construct of Angels’ paperback bling created by Tarnya Rutheford:

tarnya bling mini cover tarnya bling oval cover

This is a one-off offer (for the US) as I’ll be returning to England within the next few days.

I’ll be leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. 😀 (That was a free earworm for you to enjoy!)

So, grab ’em while you can!

Numbers, as I said, are limited.

Click on the Paypal ‘Buy it’ button on the right side of this page (under the book cover) for ordering details.

Happy Reading!

acern270ginger write on

 

 

The Writing Process Blog Hop

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Hops

Hops… 😀

A few days ago, a baton in the form of a rolled-up newspaper arrived at my (virtual) door.

“Delivery from Jon,” the courier declared impatiently, as if he was eager to be on his way.

“Which Jon?” I asked. I knew many people called –

“Jumping from cliffs Jon,” he snapped, glancing back down the (virtual) garden path where my (virtual) dog was eyeing him up.

“Oh, that Jon.” I signed something that might have been a delivery note, or a promise to dedicate my life to achieving Peace on Earth at any cost, and let the courier go on his way, closely followed by my (virtual) dog… who was by now baring his (virtual) teeth. I unrolled the newspaper, which was a few days old by now (aren’t they all out of date the moment they’re printed anyway?) and a small scrap of paper fluttered to the ground.

‘Writing Process Blog Hop,’ it read, once I’d rescued it from the slavering jaws of my virtual dog (whom I shall now call Charles Xavier).

‘Be there or admit to being a parallel quadrilateral,’  it continued. I turned the scrap over, but could find no address. So I hopped onto Google, fell off, jumped back on and found a link to Jon’s Writing Process Blog Hop. My reputation as an irregular polygon was secure.

(It was at this point, I began to wonder if I’d accidentally absorbed some of Jon’s slightly deranged, yet brilliant enthusiasm from the virtual rolled-up newspaper. I decided to lie down for a little while… just in case.)

*A little while later, after a strong coffee and once the sun had cleared the yardarm…*

Despite a lack of information of Jon’s seventeen favourite carnivorous mammals, or references to sock colour, I found Jon’s post enlightening. The format of this particular Blog Hop diverges from the intriguing irrelevance of most Blog Hops insomuch as it seeks to uncover those reasons why we writers choose to endure the anguish of creativity – and what we create as result.

The questions posed are as follows (with my own answers forming the ham, cheese and perhaps a little mayo in the sandwich).

1) What are you working on?

My second novel and sequel to ‘A Construct of Angels.’ It’s a contemporary urban adventure / romance / mystery thriller, one-third completed and waaay behind schedule because I’ve taken so much time honing (and re-honing) the first novel. My thinking was, if the first book wasn’t absolutely spot-on and free of errors, who’s going to bother reading the second one? Anyway, the second book back-tracks slightly and begins two days before the first one ended, meaning I can revisit the final scene and let the reader experience it from a different character’s POV. Although the first book concluded neatly, there were still a great many aspects that could be elaborated upon – and now expanded upon in the sequel, where there’s space to do such things.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I’m hoping my WIP will be unique. It’s a romantic supernatural thriller, but with no vampires, werewolves or shapeshifters in sight. Nor are there any inexplicable teenage college crushes. That’s right – no teens. Aside from one small person who is aged four, everyone is between the ages of twenty and one thousand three hundred and thirty seven (no, really!). Also, my story is set in modern-day York (England), which is rare enough, and features many real-life locations which can be visited. Book Two will follow the same style and include new locations.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I was writing apocalyptic sci-fi before I was a teenager – creating worlds where only a chosen few survived. Subconsciously, I think it was my way of coping with my harsh and unfair childhood. By removing most of the population, and keeping only those I trusted, I was probably trying to exercise a measure of control over the world – a control that didn’t exist outside my writing. Later, I shifted towards High Fantasy, where I created worlds from scratch  and populated them with (mainly) trustworthy characters. Now? I’m hoping that my (genre-spanning) contemporary supernatural romance urban mystery thriller might help to get me noticed in the world of writing. If I can make my mark, I may be able to complete and (self) publish my earlier High Fantasy work, and perhaps even my first completed sci-fi series.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m very lucky to be blessed with a constant flow of new ideas. Getting those ideas down in some form, however, can be a real challenge as my day job bounces me around the country on a regular basis. So I do most of my work on a Netbook, a miniature and highly-portable laptop.  I will create clusters of ideas, which will then grow into a linear story, rather like cells in a petri dish, spreading towards each other until all the clusters join together to form a seamless whole. That’s the point at which I begin to work through it, expanding on ideas, conversations and characters, swelling the story in a linear way, rather  like someone slowly blowing air into a long sausage balloon. Have you noticed that they always inflate from the nozzle end and gradually get bigger along their length, rather than expanding everywhere at once? That’s how my story expands.

All of my works to date have been never-ending stories (having no definite ending). The exception is my debut novel – whose ending formed before everything else in the story. So this story was almost written backward, with all events leading to the climax. Weird – but it worked. With the sequel, I also know how it’s going to conclude, so it will be written in the correct order, but with my eye firmly fixed upon that ending.

.

Now, according to the convention, I am to tag four other writers who are worthy of note in the Blogsphere. I spent a little time tracing the lineage of this particular hop back through Jon, his nominator Vashti Q Vega, her nominator Amanda Staley and so on back through Karen at mytrainofthoughtson, Jessica P West, JDSFiction, ratiwrites

What? I like to be thorough. I didn’t want to nominate anyone who’d already been named. Plus I’m insatiably curious too. 😀

Have alook at some of these other blogs – I found a lot of interesting material there.

So without much ado (too late?), I nominate four bloggers who have been closest to me since the very beginning.

Ryan Casey  – Ryan’s blogs are always informative and he is often way ahead of the game when it comes to anticipating the future for eBooks and their numerous formats. Ryan is a prolific writer and has long been blazing a self-publishing trail that inspired me to follow.

Candace Knoebel  has always been the inspiration I needed, when I needed it most. Her experiences in self-publishing have encouraged me to press on, despite the difficulties and pitfalls.

Sonya Loveday – The other half of the Knoebel-Loveday team, Sonya’s blogs are always fun and informative. BTW, keep an eye out for the Knoebel-Loveday parties being announced. They’re always worth showing up for! Go there, or admit to being a parallel quadrilateral.

Michelle Proulx – Why? In a word: Badgers. When Michelle first showed me her Badgers, I was overjoyed. Her blogs are always packed with fun and irreverent silliness, and the comments often take on a life of their own. They may even be sentient. Plus, Michelle holds the Award for the  longest title for a novel in decades, perhaps even longer.

Jon has been alongside me for most of my blogging journey, but I can’t bounce this back to him. Heck, I’ve named him almost a dozen times on this page already! Kisa Whipkey is also a fun blogging buddy, but Jon’s (that’s another one!) already nominated her. 😀

But now, in the style of Michelle Proulx, an unrelated link for you to enjoy:

This is Lucifer, one of the many images from The Brick Testament.

Lego LuciferBehold+the+Metatron!

Theology aside, does anyone think he looks remarkably like Alan Rickman?

Enjoy the Blog Hop!

.

.signature plus n270

ARCs of A Construct of Angels – the 2014 re-launch.

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CoA

As part of the re-launch on Feb 28th, I’d like to offer out a few Advanced Review Copies to my fellow bloggers and readers, preferably in exchange for a fair review of the book on Goodreads or Amazon.

Would anyone be interested?

If so, please let me know in the comments below, and then email me your address to; andybee64 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Please let me know if you’d prefer a Kindle, ePub or PDF version. The paperback is not yet available, but will follow along later. I hope to give away a few of those in the future.

As I’m on the road a lot, plus there’s a re-launch to organise, and I’m trying to pen the sequel etc, etc, so I’ll have to limit the number of ARCs to just fifty.

So first come, first served, as the old saying goes. I’ll leave a comment below when I’ve reached capacity.

P.S. Please don’t just ‘grab and forget’ – this book was written to be read and enjoyed – not cached. And if you’re a book reviewer, let me know and I’ll make available a copy outside of the fifty limit.

.

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