There are several reasons to love my Mac. But today’s reason is topmost in my mind.
I have carpal tunnel syndrome, and it’s severe enough that my doctor thinks I may need surgery. Thank goodness, my Mac comes with built in voice dictation software. It’s the same software that runs Siri on your iPhone.
See, I’m not typing this at all. I’m dictating this to my computer. That means less strain on my fingers and my wrist and more likelihood that I can avoid surgery. That means I can blog much easier. And that means that I’m not behind on writing my book. And I didn’t have to pay a penny for the software, nor did I have to train it. It just understands me.
Mac, I love you. I really really love you.
Now, if I could just get my computer to cook and do dishes for me and maybe fold the laundry….
I now have the first 20 chapters written with three more chapters left to go before I begin Part II. That section has been planned now for 20 more chapters. I love the visual aspect of storyboarding, and Scrivener allows me total freedom.
Scrivener allows me to format and save files in a wide variety of ways. Just with ebook formats alone, I can save my book for Kindle, Nook, or iBook and can even make it a .pdf file as well. I can also easily change the format of my book from ebook to paperback. I can also create a screenplay based on my novel using Scrivener’s templates.
For the last four years, I have been a member of a large True Blood roleplaying group across several online sites–Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. The group I’m a part of has been writing one continuous storyline spanning that entire time. Some people dedicate themselves to creating one specific character, while others play several roles on an as needed basis. All of the people in the group are talented, creative, funny, and fascinating, and in that four years working with them to tell stories, I have learned a lot about writing. It’s a great training ground for writers to develop their own voice and style. It’s also wonderful practice in an environment that makes learning fun for everyone.
Lessons I’ve learned through RP:
My days are so busy, I really wish I could take a week off work just to concentrate on my novel. However, since I can’t afford to do that, I’m doing my very best to write every day for at least a couple of hours. Even if all I get done is planning, that’s still forward movement.
I have also been struggling with some major health problems in the last year. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and serious anemia, which makes it very difficult for me to have the clear thinking and energy to do the things I need and want to do. My body is always wanting to just lie down from the moment I wake up until I give in to it’s demands. Until the medications I’m taking are doing their job, I’m doing my best to fight it with coffee, exercise (when I can), and self-talk. Some days that works. Some days it doesn’t. It’s a struggle every day just to get out of bed. Tomorrow, I’ll be calling the doctor to see about adjusting the dosage again because it’s no longer giving me the boost my body needs. I try not to get frustrated. I try to focus on the things that are going right. Some days that is easier than others.
What does that have to do with writing? Everything.
The only way I’m getting work done on my novel is through sheer force of will. I love the story and I love telling it. But it’s so difficult to get my momentum going when I’m working a full time job plus running a part time business out of my home in addition to finding time to write. In order to finish, I have made myself a schedule and I’m doing my very best to stick to it, even if I only get three pages written at a time. Any forward movement is still moving forward. Focusing on the positive.
If I hadn’t planned the chapters in advance, I would never be as far as I am. That is key for me. Planning.
Some people just write and don’t plan a story in advance, but I can’t do that. On the days when my thinking is clearest, that’s my best time for working on plot points and thinking my way to the end. That way I have a goal to shoot for as I’m writing. Half my work is done if I work that way. My novel is a mystery, and so it has to be carefully planned or the suspense is lost.
People ask me “how do you find time to write?”
I don’t. I make time. I don’t have the leisure or energy to wait till it’s convenient. I have to make it a habit. If I wait till I “find time,” it’ll never happen. It’s too easy for me to just say “I’m tired. I’ll write tomorrow.” That’s not going to get it done. If it’s not part of my daily routine, it isn’t going to ever see completion.
It would be easy for me to use my health as an excuse not to finish. I don’t want to live with regret. I have too many stories to tell. This is just the beginning of what I hope will be a long list of books I’ll write. So I’ll keep fighting my body. I’ll keep trying to get healthy. And I’ll keep doing everything I can to stay on task. No excuses.
This week, I was lucky enough to read and review John McCuaig’s Fallen Angel for Cynthia Shepp’s Book Reviews and Editing Blog.
I very much enjoyed the book, and if you click through to the review, you’ll get to see the details. There are a lot of reasons to enjoy the book, and if you enjoy paranormal thrillers, this is one you won’t want to miss!
After much deliberation, I’ve made a huge decision. Rather than break up my work into three smaller books, I’m going to write on through to the end and publish it as one long novel.
There are several reasons, but my biggest concern is with making sure I’m happy with it, and as I reached the end of the first part, I had real reservations that without the rest of the story ready RIGHT NOW, people will feel that it’s too short and complain about that fact. That won’t make anyone happy. Therefore, even though I absolutely hate changing what I’ve promised, I feel I really must. The book is telling me it wants to be a complete whole, and I won’t be pleased with myself or the end result if I don’t listen to what it’s telling me.
I know there are people who will complain and feel like they want Part 1 now, but I promise you, I will make it worth the wait. Rather than three separate short novels of approximately 180 pages each, I’ll be able to give you one book that’s nearly 550 pages.
In addition, because I am writing it as one book, rather than three separate parts, I’ll be able to bring you the whole story sooner because I’ll be able to focus on my writing and not be distracted with three separate publications. As three books, I’d have to have three different covers, do all the marketing and promotion separately, and all that takes time away from me being able to complete the story. Rather than make you wait until next year as I publish each part separately, my plan is to have it ready for publication in it’s entirety this summer.
Skimming through several blog posts about writing, I came across one that made me slow down and pay attention.
Johnathan Gunson says exactly the same thing that I’ve been feeling about authors’ use of social media sites. I see far too many writers who only post repetitive advertisements about their own work. That is a strategy doomed to fail, and I’m glad someone else noticed it too.
If all I see in your Twitter stream is “Buy my Book!” over and over, however cleverly it may be stated, I’m going to tune you out. If you’re a friend, I won’t unfollow, but I do stop reading what you have to say.
I have one friend who must be using a content generator, because these screaming tweets are posted literally every five minutes, 24/7. If I’m there for an hour on Twitter, checking out the news on friends and celebrities, I’ll see those constant posts over and over again. Every time I see one, I want to post back, “I bought the book already. Stop yelling at me!” The only thing stopping me is the fact that I do truly like this person outside of the Twitterstream. Still, it is impossible to believe that such tactics are very successful. If I’m reacting this way, and I’m a friend, I have to believe that strangers are unfollowing right and left. No one wants that kind of constant harangue, and that’s exactly how it feels.
At home, I have found ways to avoid advertisements as much as I can. I watch downloaded episodes of my favorite shows which don’t include commercials or I prerecord the shows and then fast forward through the commercials when I sit down to watch them. I installed an ad-blocker on my browser so I can avoid as many of those pesky pop ups as possible. And I am not alone. People state that the number one reason they watch TV shows as downloads or on DVD is in order to avoid commercials which they describe as “annoying interruptions.”
When I’m on social media, my attitude toward advertisements is the same. That is exactly what constant “buy my book” tweets are, in my opinion. Annoying interruptions in my otherwise interesting stream of posts.
The most successful authors, as Gunson says, already have a following, so they can get away with those sorts of advertising tweets. However, even then, if there isn’t other interesting content, either cute pet photos or witty observations or links to fascinating things or conversations with other people, such posts will be tuned out as well. And the very best Twitter users engage their followers directly, replying as frequently as possible to those who reply to their posts. You develop a rapport with readers, and those conversations go a long way to showing that you are not just there hawking your wares, but you are approachable, interesting, and worth taking the time to read on a regular basis.
Your use of Twitter should be a part of your marketing scheme, yes, but your marketing scheme should not just be shouting about what you have to sell. You’re selling yourself. Your personality. Your insights. Your personal stories. That is what will make people pay attention to your Twitter posts. And that is what will make them buy your books. People will want to read your books because they have come to know and like you because they’ve seen that you have something to say.
I think of Twitter like a giant cocktail party. Everyone is there, milling about. If all you’re doing is standing in a corner and shouting, people will ignore you. And if you start simply handing out your business card to everyone you meet without regard to whether or not they want it, you will be kicked out of the party entirely.
Cocktail parties are a great chance to meet and make new contacts. And yes, you can give out your business card, but only once people know you and want to receive it. Twitter is no different.
Social networks should be, primarily, SOCIAL, as the name suggests. If you’re not being social, you’re doing it wrong. And you should also be NETWORKING, getting to know your readers and fellow authors. Smile, shake hands, have a conversation. That is what social networks are about.
Tell them about your books as though you’re handing out your business card–sparingly and in a way that engages the audience.
Tell the news about your book:
These are all acceptable ways of talking about your book, but be sure that you are doing so in ways that engage and interest people you’re already talking to on Twitter. And once you’ve done so, go back to talking socially.