Friday, 18 July 2014

End of the Adventure

I started this sequence of blog posts with the aim of Writing a [Good] Novel in Six months.

I thought I may as well share this process with someone, even if that someone was just my computer. Kind of like a blog-cum-diary. Somewhat to my surprise, other people have been reading these posts too....I hope you've enjoyed it!

Have I Achieved my Goal?

After beginning life as a rather slow-moving story entitled 'The Trouble with Genes', the novel has transformed into a tightly written YA contemporary thriller called 'Inner Fire'.  A big thank you to the readers on my Facebook Page who voted on the title.

After starting at 70,000 words, the editorial process chopped it down to 57,000 words. It's amazing how you can lose words without damaging the narrative. (Actually, less words usually means a better story.)

I felt very proud of myself!

Then, just two weeks ago, I took another look at the manuscript. And I realised there was one major flaw. I had written Inner Fire in the wrong tense! While I'd started in the present tense ("I am, he is, they are"), on re-reading I realised the story sounded much better in the past ("I was, he was, they were").

OMG, talk about not practising what you preach.

So I've just re-edited it again, and tidied up the beginning and the ending, and now it looks much better.  At the moment, I'm sitting on it, like a hen on a special egg, worrying about whether or not it will ever hatch. (I hope I haven't used that metaphor before....)

I'm nervous about sending the manuscript out into the wide world. What if people don't like it?

So right now, I'm tossing up between self-publishing or seeking agent representation, but life's pretty busy for me at the moment, so this might take some time.

Pause for Thought

I'm going to take a break at this point in my blog narrative.

I'll let you know the next stage of Inner Fire's life once I've decided what to do with it. In the meantime, if you want to learn a little more about what the novel is about, feel free to have a look at the pinterest board I've developed.

Lessons Learned

I think, in retrospect, that six months was too short. For the next novel I'll allow myself a year. A novel is not a sprint; it's a marathon, and just like a marathon, you have to pace yourself so you don't burn out before the finish line.

So, the moral of this blog post, is - don't be afraid of taking your time. Things sometimes get better if you wait a while.

PS: Watch this Space

The next novel? What will it be about, you ask? Um, I'm not quite sure yet. At the moment I have an idea for something about faith, and self-belief and finding one's way in the world. I guess you'll just have to watch this space ....

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Getting Published

How Can I Get Published?

These days, you don't need to wait for the agent fairy or the publisher to come knocking. You can do it yourself.  But what most people actually mean: How can I see my work in print?

It is a buzz to see your book at the bookshop. I take photos of my baby, and post them on my website. How sad is that?

If this your dream, it can happen. Just don't expect it to be quick, or easy. Here's what worked for me...

9 Things That Worked for Me:

  1. A ton of hard work. I wrote on and off for about ten years before I got an acceptance. Over that time I wrote one novella, one novel, and many, many short stories.
  2. Write for free. I edited a professional magazine which gave me experience in working with deadlines, keeping to word counts, formatting documents. 
  3. Join a writer's association. I joined the New Zealand Society of Authors. Associations like the NZSA often have mentoring programmes for new writers, or access to grants and competitions.
  4. Complete some formal training. I did a Certificate in Creative Writing at a local polytechnic. The polytec then closed the course (it didn't fit with their 'core direction', whatever that was), although my teacher has continued the classes privately. Here's the link to her site and no, she's not paying me!
  5. Develop networks. This sounds cheesy, but often in life it's not what you know, it's who you know.
  6. Submit to e-zines and small journals - see my last post
  7. Enter competitions. Comps can be expensive, so now I only enter those with that offer the opportunity to get my script read by a publisher, or that provide direct feedback on my script.  The Romance Writers of America has some good ones, and my lucky break was with Storylines
  8. Keep writing. Evaluate critically. Write some more. When you feel it's good enough - and only then - begin submitting to agents or publishers. 
  9. And finally, and this isn't something you can ever predict, you need to get lucky. Why was A Necklace of Souls accepted, when another person's might have been equally as good? I don't know. Maybe the commissioning editor liked fantasy. Maybe they were looking for a novel with a strong female protagonist. Maybe the stars had aligned.

So the key message here is:

  • Persistance
  • Be as good as you can
  • A little bit of luck.

Finally, don't expect overnight success.

Actually, don't expect to make a living wage from writing, period. Treat it like a passion and then anything's a bonus.