Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day five, on writing (not to be confused with Stephen King's awesome book)

Day five, and here we are again. I hope you guys are enjoying reading me every day. Maybe you come back just to see if I can come up with something to say. That’s why I come here… It’s a different discipline specifically writing a blog post every day from writing every day. For me the latter means continuing on with a story, which is easy for me. The former means coming up with a topic each day that is not going to bore you all rigid – not so easy.

And because I have written this blog all along direct from the heart it’s a bit tricky to find topics. I have, as you will know if you’ve been reading here long enough, always written what is in my heart and on my mind. It feels a bit like selling out to choose a random topic and write on that. But it’s very good for my writing skills to stretch myself and is one of the reasons I started this challenge.

So what is my topic today? Not a random one even though I had something all figured out at 3am. Can’t remember what that was but it was good, I was sure of that much! We are all geniuses at 3am. Today I’m talking about the things you have to do as a writer that you didn’t know you’d be doing when you started. That is, if you’re an indie author. So many hours of the day go into networking (and if you read the blog from a few days ago you’ll already know my thoughts on that) and other things that are important but time consuming.

Today I’ve spent hours, and yesterday also, combing the internet for a cover for the new book Letters to Myself. Letters is women’s fiction; the protagonist Cassie is struggling to get out of a co-dependent marriage. The main subplot that kind of shadows the story arc is the letters that she writes to herself, answering herself in a positive and supportive way. The idea behind this device is to help the person build up self-esteem. For Cassie it becomes much more than that and is an important part of the story.

So, my idea for the cover was quite simple. I wanted to have a notebook open on a table with a steaming cup of tea beside it and maybe a few flowers. I love the look of black and white photography with just one burst of colour somewhere so I’ve been searching for something similar to that. Did I find it? No, I’ve been combing copyright and royalty free websites for hours, both yesterday and today. It’s frustrating because it’s eating into my editing time for Letters and my writing time for the next book in the Zora series.

I’m also stressing about whether I should keep in some of the scenes in Letters. Cassie’s husband is a sex addict and for the first part of the book she is trying to please him to hold their marriage together (there are more complex reasons but hey I want you to read the book!).  There are sex scenes in this part of the book which I felt were necessary to illustrate the depth of her despair, and also the confusion she is feeling about her true emotions. It’s to show the reader clearly what Cassie herself does not yet understand. Now I’m not sure if I should leave them, edit them or what. I was originally determined to keep them since I felt they were important to the flow of the book. Without them it doesn’t have the same impact. But I don’t want to put off readers who have come from Living a Lie or even Zora and so will not be expecting it.

For now, I’ve put it to one side. I’ve actually finished the final edit on Letters, this next read through will be to make a decision on those scenes and a replacement tactic if I delete them. My current goal is just to find the right cover pic. For the edition of Living a Lie over at Smashwords I found a great pic quickly (because on Amazon it’s with a publisher but I can still have it elsewhere – but it has to be more expensive. Not having full control of a book is one of the drawbacks to having a publisher). For Zora and the prequel I layered a few pics to get the effect I wanted. For the cat books I used one of my own pics. That is what I think I’m going to have to do here. So I’ve also spent a lot of hours taking photos and trying to edit them to how I want them. I don’t have sophisticated editing software (and if I did probably wouldn’t be able to use it) so I’m doing what I can with what I do have.  

Once I finally get the cover pic and I’ve stopped faffing about over those scenes, I need to convert the manuscript to kindle, something I’ve become quite adept at so that’s no problem, and write the blurb. For me, writing the blurb is almost as difficult as writing a synopsis for potential publishers. It feels like I’m writing with a children’s crayon – thick, chunky and unformed. I’m never happy with the blurb and often go in and edit even after the book is published.

I do believe that the main benefit you get from traditional publishing is not having to do all these things yourself but having an editor/cover designer/publicist on tap and for free. I can’t afford to pay people to do these tasks for me, and the one time I did I wasn’t happy with the results anyway and ended up doing it myself. But I’m learning new skills which is never a bad thing. Life is all about learning, no matter how old you are.

So that’s today’s blog post, a bit bland – sorry guys - but done. Tomorrow I have my topic all ready. I’ve just now remembered what I was thinking about at 3m! So tomorrow I will be dusting off another memory, something that happened to me that I can almost guarantee did not happen to you. I’m almost certain I’m the only person who could have had quite this series of events come together the way they did.

First cover possibility - probably need to lighten it

Second cover possibility, with a few edits - found this one, didn't take it

All the stuff that comes after writing the book :)

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