Counting the Cost

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I’ve been encouraged to keep going with my writing, but I have some questions. Unless I can answer those churning thoughts, the future looks vague.

What is the true cost of writing?

Does writing have a price, a value?

What is a true measure of a book’s worth?

I’ve been writing some book reviews so perhaps that is where the worth is measured – in writing a book that garners five-star reviews. I have finally got my first review for the second edition of Spiral of Hooves and it was a five. Hopefully, there will be more as don’t reviews drive sales.

However, I know as a writer that writing a review is not easy. So, I’m grateful to those that bother. It’s only been two months since the new edition of Spiral of Hooves was released – plenty of time. And there are thirteen reviews from the first edition across Amazon US and UK.

The real question is: Will the sales cover the financial costs of releasing that second edition. At present, probably not, as I estimate that I need one thousand sales to cover the costs so far. What were those costs?

Formatting      $50

Cover               $160

Publishing       $17.19 [proof copy]

Promotion       $226.59

Giveaways      $488.05

TOTAL           $941.83

Can I afford to publish another book? How much of my costs will even a small press cover? Can I justify the cost that is not included above thanks to some very generous editors?

Even if I find a small press – or an agent – I still need to be prepared to find an editor. I can go cheap, but that is foolish. The cost of a professional editor can be a $1,0000 or more. My current WIP, Fates Maelstrom, will require at least one if not three ‘sensitivity readers’ at $250 each. There is good editing software – like Fictionary – to reduce the number of paid edits, but that costs as well. $1,500 and rising.

Bottom line is that I’m retired and bills like medical, insurance, and HOA, as well as household expenses, are the priorities – followed by helping the family.

So – what should I do?

Give up writing?

Find a benefactor?

Write another 50k first draft for NaNoWriMo next month to postpone the decision?

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Writers, Have You Rocked The Vault?

Yesterday, I posted a review of The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces, and today I’m celebrating its release date with authors Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman. Congratulations ladies. 🙂 

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As this is there day, they have the comm, or the floor, here at Writing Wings.

 

It is a writer’s job to draw readers into the fictional story so completely that they forget the real world. Our goal is to render them powerless, so despite the late hour, mountain of laundry, or workday ahead, they cannot give up the journey unfolding within the paper-crisp pages before them.

Strong, compelling writing comes down to the right words, in the right order. Sounds easy, but as all writers know, it is anything BUT. So how do we create this storytelling magic? How can we weave description in such a way that the fictional landscape becomes authentic and real—a mirror of the reader’s world in all the ways that count most?

The Setting Thesaurus DuoWell, there’s some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Police Car.

And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

 

 

Shifting Storylines

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It’s March 2nd and time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly post.

Last month, I said, “I may be Insecure but I’m putting aside the whining and complaining – for a few days at least.” Well that only lasted a week or so, and then I spiralled into a pit of inactivity. Part of that was due to the ongoing delay in getting to the US.

And there’s the shifting sands that are my novels and their storylines.

What do you do when the comments from beta readers/critique partners/writing group colleagues/editors or whoever throw up new angles on your fantastic tale?

I attempt to take them on board – if they ring true. However, it often means another re-write and sometimes that can be radical.

With my debut novel, “Spiral of Hooves”, I had to re-work the whole timeline and some of the characters after my writers group pointed out ways of improving the storyline. It was better for the changes – I think.

I’ve just had a thorough critique on “Storms Compass”, and I can see where the fellow writer was coming from. However, I now face a major rewrite that will include adding scenes, explanations, descriptions, clarification – plus deleting whole chunks that are subplots that don’t tie in.

Do I trim frantically? Do I incorporate Book 2 to make a more rounded storyline?

So many questions. Perhaps I will put “Storms Compass” on a back-burner = bury it in my personal slush pile. I can then return, one day, to the novel I revised during NaNoWriMo 2015 – “Fates Maelstrom”. Or does that have the same built-in failings?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the March 2 posting of the IWSG are Lauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard! 

Wisholute or Chaos?

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This is my first post of 2015 and my first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of the year. Before I tackle the resolution chestnut, I have to introduce myself. Guess I need to update my About Me page… at some point.

Until the MonSter called multiple sclerosis swiped me down, I was a freelance equestrian journalist, and photographer. I was diagnosed with MS in January 2000 and by 2005 I retired, unable to meet any deadlines. My second wife, Juanita is now my understanding and put-upon carer, and we live in Harlech, North Wales, with a brilliant view of Snowdon.

When the MS is behaving, and my pain is calm, I write fiction. My first novel, ‘Spiral of Hooves’ was published in December 2013, and I have various projects on the go.

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

So why ‘wisholute’?

My writer friend Ailsa Abraham coined this clever word as an alternative to ‘resolution’. Don’t we all manage to fulfil just a fraction of our resolutions? In many cases, they are closer to ‘wishes’ driven by intent of some sort. Great for Insecure writers like me. So I don’t make them – well not often.

My simple ‘wisholute’ was “Find a Brit publisher and finish one tale…” by which I meant, my US publisher is great for my equestrian series, but being in the UK I would like to find a similar Brit publisher. And my insecurity kicks in when it comes to my next publishing step.

Do I chance that my ‘Gossamer Flames’ saga is worthy of beta readers? Are there any out there that will want to read it?

Should I focus instead on revising ‘Fates Maelstrom’ and re-locating it in North Wales?

Do I suppress the urge to write yet another first draft to put in the bottom oven to simmer?

Well, I’m taking part in the 100k in 100 days Challenge and have a loose strategy of edit-create-revise: on the days when I need to Blog/vent/rant etc I do; on the days when I get inspired to review one of the books I managed to read in 2014, I do; when I get the urge to bring new characters alive in ‘Seeking A Knife’, I do; and I intend to make those short stories ready for the brave beta readers out there, wherever.

And for my reading I am multi-tasking too – I have three books on the go, and just acquired one set locally, to get my head ready for that revision I mentioned.

Trouble is, that insecurity might be feeding the multi-tasking. Should that be chaos? Not if we are creating words and worlds for valued readers. As IWSG says, “Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!”

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

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The awesome co-hosts for the January 7 posting of the IWSG will be Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Please visit others in the group and connect with the awesome writers out there. Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

 

Would You Trade Your Writer’s Block?

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I promise that it was there… until I woke up. Didn’t you see it when you arrived? Maybe it departed on wings of… well take your pick, on Gossamer, feather, metal, wood or leather.

Time to be honest. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Maybe I have an antigen in my makeup, or my muse works overtime.  Whichever it is, I have too many ideas, therefore too many first drafts that need editing.  I just need to find the one idea that fits the moment.

However, I admit with Multiple Sclerosis that I am always losing thoughts as I write. This post is a typical example as I lost my train of thought many times. Whether the thought ever came back, I don’t remember. Yes, it’s that bad.

As for my block it’s over editing, but more of that later.

Let’s continue with my primary antigens to Writer’s Block. Not all of them work all of the time, but at least one might yield something that I can use. Maybe even something that helps you.

  1. DREAMS: We all dream, although we often forget most of them. I don’t always have inspiring dreams, but there are a few that offer something of worth. When I wake up, I either write the dream down or work through the idea that it inspires, for later use as either a scene, a short story, or a novel.

 

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

  1. PHOTOS: Although I used to take photographs as an equestrian journalist, it tends to be other people’s photos that yield the best inspiration. On Pinterest I have gradually collated images to inspire new ideas. See my Pinterest file here.

 

  1. OUTDOORS: When I was more mobile, I found that getting out into natural surroundings would inspire me. That included observing people in the street or park. I once got the idea for a Haiku about a kite from a summer wander – or was it a Senyru? Nowadays I have to rely more on my immediate surroundings for inspiration – like “Black with Secrets, Adorned with Silver”, my Blog Post on Monday, which was inspired by dawn sounds that woke me up. One advantage is gazing at Snowdon every day.

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  1. GAMING: Okay playing online games – MMORPGs – is one of my ways to chill… a reward like chocolate, but gaming is a source of inspiration. I have two draft novels set against a gaming world, in fact a fictional gaming world based on my short story saga “Gossamer Flames”. I’m not sure what the inspiration for the first novella that became “Gossamer Flames” was, but gaming has built more of the world. Ironically, the novella –Weave of the Sister Skein – appeared while I was recovering from my first MS attack in 1999.

I’m sure that you can suggest other sources of inspiration, and you are welcome to add them in your comments.

So to My Block and Insecurity – Editing. I am churning out first drafts faster than I can edit them. My mind can no longer deal with focusing on finding the faults. Yes I can trudge through the manuscript – not MS, please, as I live with a MonSter already. Trawling word by word, I aim for perfection. I search for plot holes and character flaws. But I need months, even years. Time is not on my side.

Perhaps I need an editor partner. Maybe someone that can take my words then polish the idea into something worth reading. All offers considered.

Maybe that’s another Writing Unblock antigen. Anyone want to trade?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when we talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs, perhaps offering a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

This is my monthly IWSG post and there are many more words of wisdom out in cyber-space. I’m only a single blip among 290 other amazing bloggers rocking the neurotic writing world. If you click here there are links to all of them and you can visit as many as you want.

All thanks to Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom!

My Writing Process

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This is one of those blog memes doing the rounds and it was Facebook writer friend David W Robinson who encouraged me to have a go  – although I had to confess that it might be another means to put off my outstanding edit. In fact that’s been outstanding for eleven months.

First I should say that David is the opposite of me, as a visit to his ‘My Writing Process’ post at http://www.dwrob.com/2014/05/my-writing-process/ should make clear. He’s also a very prolific writer and one of the awesome Crooked Cat authors, which is in contrast to my single novel in print. Or can I count all those magazine and newspaper articles… guess not.

However, we share a passion for crime even if his see daylight beyond his eyes. Please check out his site and enjoy his writing.

Enough prevaricating, time to confess about My Writing Process.

Beyond the words ‘sporadic’ and ‘erratic’ there is a pattern. At specific times of the year, mainly during November and NaNoWriMo, I focus on getting a first draft down on paper. I usually aim to plot this novel out in detail during previous months, leaving room for the characters to introduce their own direction to the tale. Sometimes I manage to fit the draft for another novel into a year, and write that in the same way – outline and fast first draft.

However, this process has left me with five unfinished novels, including the one that I class as “the outstanding edit” – ‘Wyrm Bait’. I wrote the first draft in July 2011 and I revised it in 2012 using a cut & past approach = printed version, lots of colour pens, cards, shuffling and slicing. When I was satisfied with the third draft of ‘Wyrm Bait’, I sent it to some professional editors – Hyland & Byrne – and received some very constructive comments, suggestions and line-by-line changes. That was in June and I still need to start on the next revision using their material.

That means there’s no writing process there, although I have completed another NaNo draft and various shorts set in my Gossamer Flamesl world. Somehow re-writing and editing shorts is easier to face than a whole novel. Too many distractions standing in my way like emails, reading other blogs, social media, not to mention moving house.

Yet, if I take a step back and look at this all carefully, I can see a pattern. Rather than work in large chunks of text or time, I choose smaller slivers to focus on – small specific targets, like short stories.

And what is a novel but a series of carefully crafted scenes, with twists, turns and threads weaving them together. Maybe dividing it up that way, pacing myself, will become my re-writing process.

So I have no excuse now. Tomorrow I must start on revising ‘Wyrm Bait’ – or maybe next week.

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