Ready for a Holiday #writerslife #writing #amwriting

Sick club…

I’ve not been well for a few months now with a cold and then a cough that just won’t go away. But this is my last week of work and then I am taking a three week holiday. Really looking forward to a nice relaxing break….Okay, and maybe just a smidgen of fun 😉

Back to the blog…

So, I’m well and truly fed up of the sick club and can’t wait to get back to blogging. I have some fun blog posts queued up and will get cracking on them while I am on holiday! So pull up your chair and get the popcorn out!

Happy holidays…

I’ll be in Brisbane for Christmas and New year, and I will also drop a couple of posts of our travels while there. It’s been over five years since my last visit and I expect it will have changed a fair bit. It’s a long flight from Perth, too, so any scifi or fantasy reading recommendations would be appreciated!

Writerly stuff…

When I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself I was busy writing my new book series. I’m into editing now and happy with the way the book turned out. I usually aim for 100-110k and then cut about 10-20%. This time I didn’t quite make 90k in the draft and it’s tracking at around 80k after the first editing cull. I normally struggle to keep the word count down so this is a new experience for me! I’m comfortable with the storyline and will see how it feels as I read. Sometimes gaps become obvious later, but I would rather it was a good 80k than try and pad it out!

Book 2 for the Divided World Series should be coming out in print soon. And Book 3 just needs a final read, so lots coming in the new year!

Let’s get creative…

I’ve had a lot of fun writing the new book. It was nice to get back into the creative side of writing after so long editing and tweaking the last series. But now the draft is done, I do enjoy the editing 🙂

Happy reading and writing! 🙂

What I learned by publishing a book. #writing #books #publishing #amwriting

Letting go is hard. No matter how much time you spend revising, or how many rounds of editing, your book will never be good enough for your satisfaction. When you do publish, you will almost certainly receive new feedback that you wish you had known before. You will need to accept that your book can always be better, but that ultimately there needs to be a point where you do let it go. The struggle for perfection is what writing is all about.

You will receive support from unexpected places. The people who take the time to read the whole book and give you their feedback are little gems. The ones who tell you if they liked it, and even if they don’t. Surprisingly, you will learn most from the less than perfect reviews, will see how you can improve, and what to look for next time around. And the people who tell their friends they loved it, there is a special place in bookish heaven for them.

That first review on Amazon or Goodreads will change your world. The idea that anyone at all could think your book is worthy of reviewing is a bit of a revelation. That this person is a complete stranger who has taken the time to read your whole book will fill you with such motivation that you cannot wait to get back to your keyboard and write some more.

It’s different on the other side. Once you publish a book, you never feel quite the same. If you love writing, then publishing is the ultimate achievement. You can’t wait to publish some more, to write better, and to move onward. Not everyone will love your work, or even like it, and it’s certainly not going to be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but those that do enjoy your story will make those thousands of hours you spent worthwhile.

Most people don’t get how much time you spend crafting your book. Many can guess that you spent a lot of time writing the book, but what they don’t realize is that writing a book is only the start. For every hour you spend writing, you spend ten more editing it through various iterations. And then you will edit it some more!

You’re never going to be rich. Your non-writer friends might have a strange notion that you will make some money when you publish a book. You won’t make any money, not even enough to cover your costs, not with the first one, or the second one, but you might start to turn the tide later down the track.

Beta readers make a book. Those amazing people who are prepared to tackle your novel in its less-than-perfect state will help you find that final 10%. They can spot plot holes, anomalies, and the little gremlins that sneak in. And they will also tell you if they enjoy parts, or even when something made them smile 🙂 There is no better motivation than a beta reader giving you the thumbs up!

Normal service is resumed! #amwriting

Well, after all the excitement of finally publishing book one in my Divided World Series I am excited to be getting back to a bit of regular blogging…and writing!

I haven’t done any completely new writing for a few months now so I expect I will be a little rusty. But, just like riding a bike, I am sure it will all come back to me. Book 2 was drafted a while ago so I will also be completing some self-editing and seeking some beta feedback before I get onto the ‘proper editing’ (i.e. editing not done by me).

I have learnt a lot about publishing over the last month so I will also be running a series of posts about that, as well as sharing links to some amazing resources I have found along the way. 

So lots of exciting updates that you will hopefully find of interest.

I would also like to open up my blog to guest posts. Given this is a blog about writing I would like to keep posts to that topic, and I am happy to include links to your blog and or book.  If you are new to blogging or would just like to reach a few new readers please drop me an email to glcromarty@thewritingchimp.com.

Divided Serenity is available to buy on all Amazon stores, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s Free!

US Amazon

AUS Amazon
AUS Amazon

   UK Amazon

For the latest news on Book Two  you can subscribe to my newsletter [HERE] or follow my author site G.L.Cromarty [www.GLCromarty.com]

The writing apprenticeship #amwriting

At the bottom of the article is a wonderful video, and well worth a watch for those who might be struggling to match their writing passion to their desired quality of work.

There are a few takeaways, but amongst them, that it is Okay for it to take time between starting your writing journey and achieving that illusive thing called quality.

Here’s a great notion to wrap your head around…most writers, even successful writers, still consider themselves to be amateurs. Not sure what that makes the rest of us, but I guess at its heart, we should simply only ever strive to do better tomorrow than we did today, should make our next book better than our last, and should not judge our first work too unfairly.

We have to start somewhere, and we have to learn along the way.

I recently went to a writing seminar, and as always at such events you quickly get into a discussion with fellow writers, about what you have done so far in your writing journey, and what you are planning to do next.

I was surprised by the number of people who wanted to be a writer but had written virtually nothing to date.

I realised that I was nothing like them, and that my own journey was considerably longer and slower.

Were these new writers being overly ambitious? Perhaps they were, or perhaps they were simply starting from a higher baseline than me. One thing I have realised from my own writing journey is that I am incredibly slow, and I have (in my old age) become comfortable with simply reaching my writing destination at my own snail-like pace.

So, here is my writing journey.

As a child

Sometimes parents just know their children love books – I was one such child. As long as I can recall I was either being read to, or reading for myself. I consumed books at a voracious rate, and my whole family indulged me. Not sure what to get me for Christmas or birthdays? Just get me a book, and they did in vast numbers. I read them just as fast. Pretty much at any point of my childhood I was reading age relevant books. I loved the fairy tales of mythical places and imaginary kingdoms, talking animals, dragons, castles, that was right up my street. My mother bought me a new ladybird book every week, and it was my absolute favourite treat. Sleeping beauty, The Princess and the Pea, The Roald Dahl collection, Aesops fables – these were my staple reading as a child. Later, I progressed to books such as The Mill on the Floss, and The Hobbit. 

Young adult

I started writing myself just after university (over twenty years ago now), and I have been writing pretty much ever since. It ebbs and flows as with all things in life. That pesky thing called reality and work can get in the way, but I have always been drawn back to write. And of course I never stopped reading.

I write a lot

During the last 20 years I wrote hundreds of parts of books, and a total of 2 full books, before I considered myself close to proficient. That’s a lot of writing. I wrote whatever and whenever I fancied. I didn’t constrict my ideas or my genre; I just leapt right in and wrote.

I considered this my apprenticeship of writing. I have no formal writing qualifications, I have the usual high school exams and good grades in English language and literature, but went on to complete a degree in maths and computing, and my career is based around that.

Regret 

If I had one regret it would be that I did not stop to consider what I loved doing when I was younger, and that I had selected a degree that would complement my love of writing. But that’s just life isn’t it, we don’t always make the perfect decision, and we learn from whatever we do.

You know when it’s the one

I guess some people, such as the ones I met on my writing course, just know straight off that they have found the ‘one’, and some people, like me, have to battle through a vast and extended apprenticeship before they decide to commit to publishing a book.

One thing I do not regret is all the years I have spent writing, or the books I wrote that were not quite right. They taught me a lot.

We all have to start somewhere.

As the video mentions, we all must pass through an apprenticeship of some kind, whether that apprenticeship is long or short doesn’t really matter, the important thing is that we keep going and we come out on the other side.

I realise that I am not a finished product, that my life will teach me much more about writing, and that I will ultimately look back on my first published novel and realise it wasn’t my best. And that is a wonderful thought—to expect that I will always keep improving.

I also realise that we all have to start somewhere, and that the most important step is simply to start.

I hope you enjoy the video 🙂 and happy writing!

Divided Serenity out now on all Amazon stores, and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Divided Serenity Book Cover

If you never try you’ll never know #amwriting #publishing #scifi

I have been working on my current WIP for many years. I first had the idea for the story back in 2004, at least that is the first rough sketch of it, and my first recorded version. I parked it for years, dabbling in other ideas and stories but never taking them much further.

In 2013, I moved to my present house. It was this move that brought back my love of writing in earnest, and my writing room, which I love, that inspired me to do more than just dabble, and to finally finish and then publish the book.

I have said often that life is not always about writing, sometimes we need to live and to be in the real world for a time, but if you are a writer at your core, you will always come back to it once the opportunity arises.

It has been three years since I decided to finish and then publish the book.

It has taken me a lot longer than I thought.

I am still not quite there yet, BUT, the end is in sight.

My book turned into a trilogy, and this was much of the reason it took so long. I wrote the first book, and then realised that I needed to finish the rest for two main reasons:

  • It would never really be a stand-alone, and although I re-wrote the ending of book one, and did to some extent close it, there was always going to an obvious next step in the story.
  • I needed to be comfortable in the complete series and its conclusion. Whether you are a book planner or not, the story is never really sealed until that moment when you close off the last chapter of the book and you know that it is done. I learned an awful lot by completing the whole story, and I am so glad that I did because I needed to make adjustment to book one, and once you publish that’s a lot harder to do.

I have many reservations about it not being a stand-alone book. Perhaps it was an over ambitious story. I hope not. If I was to start over I would certainly think about the marketability of trying to launch a series as an unpublished author, and perhaps with hindsight I should have let this one rest longer, until I had a few single books under my belt.

As the saying goes, it is what it is. And it is a learning curve, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

There was a great level of satisfaction in finishing that last chapter of the third book, and in seeing all the plot points come to a conclusion.

In going through the process, I have gained greater confidence in my writer’s voice. It has evolved over the three books, along with the characters and the story. I feel like I have joined my characters, and that we have all transitioned together into something more than we once were.

So, I am ready now to publish it. I am ready to start writing something else.

I am now planning out a 6 month marketing plan, and aim to launch it around December time. Book 2 and 3 will need professional editing, and that always takes time. I need to start thinking about book covers and formatting, and reviewers and all those other things that will hopefully get the book noticed. And I need to think about where and how I publish it.

After December, I guess I will enter a whole new game. When you have not yet been published, you look at published authors with a sense of wonder, and look at the process with a sense of fear.

Publishing my book is definitely a step outside my comfort zone, but as the other great saying goes…if you never try you’ll never know 🙂

What motivates you to write?

What motivates you?

My first reaction to this question was a little bit erm, I’m not sure. I just really, really want <Insert your desire here> . I have described myself as a little bit of a life drifter in the past. I have a great life, and I am very happy with what I have achieved, but do I really set myself a course? Or have I just acidented upon what and where I am?

Was I really motivated?

My thoughts drifted (yes, there’s that word again) off to the usual things that people talk of when they refer to positive motivation. Commonly mentioned things include money, fame, recognition from peers, perhaps the satisfaction you feel from helping others, or even a determination to find a cure for a disease. I realised that what motivates people is the vision of the end goal. That these ideas of motivation were all end goals, places we want to be physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“People are often motivated by the vision of the end goal.”

Ok, I kind of like that. I’m a writer, I love visualisation, I could get lost in visualisation!

Yep, better stop there, otherwise you can fall into the trap of spending so much time and effort visualising where you want to be that you never actually get there!

dream

So many people want things, but they are not prepared to put in the effort to get there. You want that great body, but do you get up early to exercise everyday? You want to be a hot shot lawyer, but are you prepared to study, and work the long hard hours to achieve this dream?

Achieving is sometimes about giving something else up. Motivation is the thing that makes it easy to give up x in order to get y. Working long hours doesn’t feel hard when each hour takes you closer to your dream. Not only does putting in the effort not feel like a burden, you actually enjoy it!

So, we have a dream, we are motivated to put the hard graft in to achieve it. We are mentally prepared to give up our time, comforts, donuts (donuts can be hard), to turn our vision into reality.

what

Now we are just missing one vital step…A plan to get us there.

Part 3 coming soon – Achieving your dreams by setting goals

The English Question – choosing your flavour / flavor of English

As a child in the UK I grew up grappling with the ungainly language known as English. I will be the first to admit I find English a baffling language. It’s full of contractions, rules that have a list of exceptions as long as your arm, and obscure principles steeped in the mists of time that make no sense at all.

For all its quirks and problems, I still love English, and for better or worse, for a large part of the planet, English is here to stay.

English comes in flavours, and other countries have their own set of slightly different rules that go some way to removing a few of the more extreme pain points. Additionally, we batlle with the concept of colloquialisms, that British people say one thing, but Americans, Australians and other English speakers may say something else.

As an English expatriate, who now lives in Australia, I have become desensitised to this variation in the spelling, and in the colloquialisms. I watch American TV, Australian TV, and British TV. I buy books from Amazon.com so it’s fair to assume that most of these are in American English. In short, I have become immune to the subtle differences in the language such that I don’t even notice them anymore.

When I first made a decision to look at publishing a book, I realised the vital first step was enlisting an editor. I am not a person constrained by boundaries, and it did not cross my mind to look for a local editor, or even necessarily an editor who was from Australia or the UK, I simply looked for an editor I felt I could work with and connect with, and as it happens, my editor is based in America.

One of the first questions she asked me was what ‘English’ do you want to edit in.

Until this point, I had just assumed I would stick with my native language but now I questioned that presumption.

After some discussion I settled on American English, and in short, it’s the biggest market, and even in the other markets, it’s not unfamiliar.

Given my perceived language immunity I assumed this was a simple flick of the dictionary once I finished writing and, ta-dah, all would be good.

This was my first mistake. It’s actually a lot harder to write in your non-native language than it is to read or listen to it, and while you think you understand all the subtleties you really don’t.

With hindsight, it was actually a good move to pick an American editor since I wanted the finished book in American English. My editor picks out all kinds of subtle things that I would never notice, and I think an Australian or UK editor may also not notice, or at least not notice as easily.

Picking your final audience is an important decision when finalising a book. I am happy with my decision, and time will tell if this was ultimately the right choice.

Just for fun I thought I would leave you with a few of the colloquialisms picked up along the way  🙂

English American
Lift Elevator
Bloke Guy
Mad Crazy
Got on Get along
I’ve not had I haven’t had
Messing about Messing around

 

Edit, edit, edit! Write!

The last 8 weeks have been all about editing. I feel like I have explored my book in infinite detail, and at the same time I cannot escape the fear that I have still not done enough.

After all that intensive, reading, checking, changing, adding, and deleting of something I have looked at already many times, it has gone. It is now back with my editor, and I feel strangely at a loss, like something is missing.

Now I have a gap or about another 8 weeks, but after all that editing I am worried that I have forgotten how to write!

I think it is going to take a little while to find the flow of writing again. d8aca537aa0dda35c694b5979713537e.jpgI drafted book two, and have a planned to some extent book 3. So, it’s time to get back into writing, get back into the detailed planning of the final book, and start tapping away.

I have realized many things going through this process, but one of them in particular is how much I love to just write. To some extent I would like to stop there at the draft, and not bother with all this polish and perfection. But I also have a bit of a love-hate thing going on with editing. It think of it a bit like weeding the garden. You switch the one part of the brain off and hack, cut, chop and pull the rest of it about until – voila – you have a beautifully manicured garden. Ok, maybe not quite a manicured garden yet, perhaps more of an emerging ramble of charm that you can see the potential in.

I have enjoyed seeing the book shift from that waddling toddler into a slightly more robust child. I am making my way slowly, but I know that my book is growing up.

I am a terribly impatient person, and I am containing this as best I can.

For the next 8 weeks it is time to rest book one, and then I can come back to it with fresh eyes and get ready for the exciting next step.

Creative writing – taking a risk

Creative writing has been a long term passion of mine, and I wrote a little while ago about living my life purpose – it’s time to stop procrastinating. In it I talk about my dream to become a writer. I started a journal, enlisted an editor, and began taking those necessary steps to start turning my dream into a reality. comfort My book – The Wall – is currently in the capable hands of a wonderful editor that I have found. I am extremely hopeful about what I will learn by having an expert cast their eyes over my work. I realise that I have a long way to go, to get both myself and my book to the finished product, but I am determined to enjoy the journey, and to keep learning on the way.

In order to fulfil my life purpose I must risk being a fool or a failure

In all aspects of my working life, I am not a person driven by excessive planning. If I have a goal in mind, whatever that goal is, I always find a way to get there. I simply focus on what I want to achieve, what I am doing now, and what I am doing next. What I don’t do in plan every single step that I will need to take, just the immediate and the distant. Is this the right approach? Will it work for writing? I honestly don’t know. For the moment I am very focused on getting this book edited and to quality, but I am already starting to understand more about publishing, agents, self publishing, and the things I need for my next step. I do know that a lot of people send synopsis and first chapters and wait for interest before finishing a book. For me this didn’t really appeal. I had to finish a whole book just so that I knew that I could. As part of my research I have found some awesome blogs out there, with great information on improving the quality of writing, and on publishing itself. I am also a recent, but now avid, podcast listener. My daily commute to and from work provides the perfect opportunity to read blogs or listen to a podcast on writing, and provides plenty of ideas to use when I get home in the evening. I guess one of the things that sticks in my mind about writers is the stamina you need to see your book through to publication, and how incredibly hard it is to put your heart and soul on the line. The bottom line is, if we want to achieve our goals, and if we want to stop wishing we were a writer, and to begin accepting that we are a writer – we have to take that risk – take the risk of being a fool or a failure.