Who’s up for JulNoWriMo?

For a start, what is it? As the organisers say, it’s like NaNoWriMo – but hotter! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November every year, and the aim is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It’s about putting perseverance and enthusiasm above being painstaking and polished. The idea is to churn out the words and tidy everything up later.

50000 words = five of these!

You’ll find the rules here, explained by Elizabeth Donald. She explains that yes, anyone who tries to write 50,000 words in 31 days is certifiable, but that’s the fun of the whole thing. It’s a challenge and it’s actually almost achieveable.

I’m signing up! It’s going to be a tall order since July is going to be crazy with the kids at home, the llama trekking season getting going and I have quite a few appointments lined up for various things. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I’m learning a lot these days as I prepare to become an ebook author. My latest discover is #samplesunday on Twitter. It’s an indie author thing. Enter #samplesunday as a search term and you’ll find links to samples of writing by people intending to self-publish. I shall be joining in from next week.

Two great websites I’ve recently discovered are Kindle Obsessed and Writinghood. These are packed full of info and tips. Check them out.

 

Right, I’m really getting somewhere with my author platform. I invested very wisely in Jason Matthew’s How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks, All For Free and I’m working steadily through. So I now have a LinkedIn account – under Stephanie Dagg – and Chris is currently setting up two websites for me. One is www.headsabovewater.fr for my non-fiction travel memoirs about moving to and living in France, and the other is www.somethingfishy.fr for my racy fishing mystery series.

I’ve joined two Facebook groups, Writing Kindle Books and How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks, All For Free. There’s lots of inspiration and camaraderie out there.

And I’m finally getting my writing more organised. I had a tendency to sit and panic at my desk and not know where to start on the several projects I have underway. I do drama Queen, I’m afraid. Anyway, now I just set to without the agonising, and if I’m really undecided, then I get on with typing out one of my children’s books. I don’t have the original files any more, but I have the copyright, so I’m updating and revising as I go and will rerelease them as ebooks. First up will be Beat the Hackers, an exciting read that never got the attention it deserved first time round, in my opinion!

So plenty to be getting on with …

I was horrified to read on Publishing Perspectives that thanks to a video course called Autopilot Kindle Cash (details here), spammers are uploading bogus e-books onto the Amazon Kindle bookstore. One tactic is to copy an ebook that’s doing well, give it a new title and cover and launch it at a slightly different market. This sort of pirating should be relatively easy to pick up. However, other so-called authors are using content that can be brought very cheaply online, repackaging it and selling it as a book, often for 99 cents. Reading the comments on Warrior Forum where, Autopilot Kindle Cash is advertised and discussed, goes to show that none of the people who think it’s “wow” have given a thought as to where the content is actually coming from.

The claim is also made about AKC that “It is TRULY a hands free, increasing, monthly income”. The “hands-free” part of that is intriguing. If you read the product description, you find this: “With this brand new … course, YOU just hand the video course to your spouse, your assistant, your brother… heck – even hand it to your 10 year old kid! They’ll be posting 10 or even 20 new Kindle books to your account EVERY DAY!” One of the commenters on the forum talks about paying his “office girl” to do the work for him. So somebody somewhere is doing something with their hands to churn out these “books” – just not necessarily the person who buys the package. And they’re certainly not being creative in the way real authors are.

So do beware when you’re buying stuff on Kindle bookstore. Always download a sample first. I do, and I’ve weeded out what I now realise were probably examples of this sort of cobbled-together publication. Sadly there’s the very real danger that the material worth reading may start to disappear under the piles of substandard junk produced by these sorts of means.

 

It’s time I rolled my sleeves up and got serious about this blog. I’ve achieved a lot of success with my other blog, Blog in France, which is about the many facets of life as an expat. That success came purely and simply from putting the effort in on it and creating interesting content.

So, I’ll do the same here. I shall endeavour to post every day and settle on a definite direction for this blog. It’s a bit erratic at the moment, but it’s early days yet. So bear with me. I’ll hope you’ll see a definite improvement before too long.

And to give you something to think about today, here are five writing tips from the electronixwarehouse.com website:

It behooves the writer to avoid archaic expressions.

One should not shift from the third person to the second person when you write.

I once read that splitting modifiers was wrong in the library.

It is generally recommended that the use of the passive be minimized.

Write assertively, I think.

A quick bike ride will perk you up!

Five tips to help you keep writing when self-doubt or fatigue starts to creep up on you and it’s all becoming a bit of a chore:

 

 

  • Read a book similar to the one you’re working on. That should encourage you to keep going. This author did it – so can you!
  • If you’re at your best early on in a project, than start another one. Leave the original to one side for a while, but come back to it once you’re re-energised from getting a new book going.
  • Put some music on and maybe even have a little dance. Go for a quick walk. Tidy your desk. Do a short, physical activity like those that you enjoy. It’ll brighten you up and get you into a positive mood again.
  • Write something. Anything. Keeping a blog is brilliant. Sitting down to write a short post for it is a good springboard for moving on to writing your book.
  • Read other people’s blogs, and see if they can give you any advice. But not for too long! Make some comments, make some notes, then go back to your own writing.

Everyone works differently. It’s a matter of trial and error to find what’s best for you. At the moment, I’m flitting between four different books and my two blogs. I’d been trying to focus on just the one story to get it finished, but that wasn’t working for me. I’m much more productive now I’ve got several things going at once.

But make sure you do something. Your book won’t write itself!

How to fit a few more precious moments of writing into a busy day around your day job:

Five extremely practical ways:

  1. Only wash up/load the dishwasher once a day.
  2. Stop checking Facebook, Twitter, your blog stats etc quite so often.
  3. Shower faster – or less often. You choose!
  4. Cut housework down to the absolute minimum to stay hygienic.
  5. Do bigger grocery shops to cut down on trips to the supermarket.

Five extremely effective ways:

  1. Sell your children.
  2. Shut yourself away from the world for a month.
  3. Hire maids, gardeners, cooks etc so you don’t have to do anything other than write.
  4. Go without sleep.
  5. Type faster.

OK, I never said they were practical!

STOP PRESS: There’s still time to read the brilliant A Song for Europe by Simon Lipson before Eurovision on Saturday on your Kindle. I’ve just had a lovely email from him, in response to my review of the book. What a nice guy.

 

 

Rors loves BDs - bandes desinées (comic books), but even they ring the changes with different type styles to denote how things are said!

I was reading a book with nine-year-old Ruadhri the other day, and it really grated on me that the author only said ‘said’ in the dialogue. What a wasted opportunity both to enhance the story with suggesting how the characters said what they said (whispered, gasped, cried etc), and to expand the reader’s vocabulary. Children will only learn new words if they’re exposed to him. OK, you don’t need to go too mad in children’s books, but at the very least I would expect to see a dozen or more variations.

Quite a lot of adult books only manage a narrow range of ‘said’ equivalents too. Come on, let’s get more creative and interesting!

Here are 25 alternatives to said, and that’s just scratching the surface:

Asked

Argued

Bellowed

Challenged

Cried

Croaked

Demanded

Gasped

Giggled

Grumbled

Guffawed

Laughed

Mumbled

Muttered

Offered

Pouted

Shouted

Screeched

Snarled

Suggested

Threatened

Whined

Whispered

Wondered

Yawned

 

Another 25 coming soon …

Writing is tiring, no two ways about it. Non-writers tend to roll their eyes in that ‘yeah right’ way when you say that. But they should try a stint of a couple of hours of creative writing or blogging. They’ll soon see!

It’s not just the concentration that can be fatiguing, there’s the physical side too. I was intrigued as to how many calories an hour’s intensive blogging might burn off, so I did some digging around on the Net. The act of typing or writing burns around 100 calories an hour. However, I’m sure that if you hit the backspace button as often as I do, that burns a lot more! And thinking takes energy too. I’ve come across estimates of everything from 20 to 100 calories an hour for exercising the old grey matter. So that’s up to 200 calories consumed in sixty minutes’ work, the same as housework or yoga. What’s more, the chances are you’re up and down during that time, looking something up in the dictionary, digging out your notes, catching the runaway goat before it eats the lilac bush – again. Or does that last one only happen here?

So it’s OK to feel bushed after being creative. But I find that when I’m in full-throttle writing mode, I can’t sleep, no matter how tired I am. My brain won’t turn off. I’m having a bad dose of insomnia at the moment, mainly for that reason. I’m up and down all night, raiding the fridge, making cups of herbal tea, even sitting in the garden listening to the nightjars. Which is lovely, although the not-sleeping is aggravating.

But I wouldn’t give up my writing for anything.

Right, the preliminary challenge before starting the 31 day challenge to build a better blog was to do a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.So here goes for my very new blog:

Strengths: I’m an editor and also a published author so I know quite a lot about writing and publishing. I have a lot of book reviews to put up. My own books to showcase. Interest in electronic publishing too.

Weaknesses: only just starting. Not well known.

Opportunities: making a bit of pocket money if I affiliate to Amazon or to a writing workshop etc. Build up links to other writers and their sites.

Threats: all the other excellent writing sites out there! My lack of assertiveness which I must overcome.

As for the ‘elevator pitch’ i.e. short promotional sentence, hmm. Join me in my journey to be a published author again? Or what I already have – Relaunching my writing career, and looking at books, publishing, the Kindle … and more! Yes, I’ll stick with that.