Update from The Writing House

Happy Spring! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

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Spring has finally arrived in Minnesota. We had a cold start to April, but at least the snow had started melting. That is until the weekend of April 13-15 when we had a good ole fashioned blizzard. The kind where it snows, snows and snows. Just when you think it was going to stop, it started up again. It didn’t stop until late Sunday night. We wound up with about 16 inches of snow at our house.

Then jump to the following weekend. We had 50 degree weather and the grass was turning green. We have a north facing deck at our condo, so things don’t melt as fast as we would like them to in front of our place. Here is my view last Monday, after our first spring like weather weekend. Looks like winter on our side and spring across the lot!

April was a busy reading and marketing month for me in the writing house. Here’s what happened

  • Happy 1st Birthday to The Hard Way. Can’t believe I published it a year ago this month. I ran a $.99 sale on Amazon.com for the e-book from April 11-15 to celebrate.
  • I attended an editing seminar which will help me with my upcoming editing project.
  • Beta read a novel for another Minnesota author, Christopher D. Schmitz, called Through the Darque Gates of Goth. It is the second book in Wolves of Tesseract series. Look for it to be published soon! Here is a link to Chris’ author website Christopher D. Schmitz for information about him and his books.
  • Monthly book club read, Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Great read about hockey and loyality to small town team and community. Our club had a great discussion about it over coffee.

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I also did some fun reading including Patty Jane’s House of Curl by Lorna Landvik and A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa. It is always nice to just relax on the couch with a good book. An escape from the stresses of life, at least for a little while.

In May, I will be starting the next round of edits for The Bully’s Way to have it ready for an alpha read this fall. Looking forward to see where this editing journey takes me. Be sure to get your copy of The Hard Way so you can have it read before The Bully’s Way is published. My anticipated publishing date is October 2019. Here is my promo for it!

Looking for a good teen read? Be sure to pick up a copy of The Hard Way! It is available in e-book format on Amazon.com and paperback on both Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

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Here is the Amazon.com link! The Hard Way – Amazon.com

And the Barnes and Noble link! The Hard Way – Barnes and Noble

Have a great week!

Note: The view from the Writing House window is a photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Update from the Writing House

Good Morning and Happy Monday!

This week brought me back into working on the manuscript for The Bully’s Way, the second book in The Way Series. I figured if I have time to read another book for a review, then I should reading and working on my own.

I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of 2015. It is a world wide online writing project where you commit to write 50,000 in 30 days. The goal is to have completed a manuscript for a novel by the end of the month. If you make the 50,000 word goal, you do what they call “win”. My “win” was I created The Bully’s Way.

So, last week I started my first read through of the manuscript since I originally wrote it. I learned a lot since then about editing and how my own writing quirks. I saw many of those quirks in this rough draft, and made the appropriate changes. With all that I have learned so far, I’ll be able to make this manuscript a cleaner read for my editor than the first one was. My increased knowledge about the editing process will not replace my editor though, just make things easier for her and make my writing better for me.

The other part of my work this week is the promotion of The Hard Way. I have been doing some reading about good places to market my book. Even with the number of people on social media, there is a lot of additional networking that needs to happen inside and outside social media. The other part of marketing success is a luck. any random answer or question can lead to making connections. You may be in a thread of one of your social media profiles about publishing and see someone who works with the audience you are writing for. Do you take a chance to ask that person a question? I’m the type of person who will ask, in a nice way of course, and let that person make the choice to help or not. You just never know where it will go if they say yes.

Networking is about putting yourself and your book out there.  I’m learning not to be afraid to ask. It is ok of the answer is no. Just need to keep trying and see what happens.

Enjoy your week. I will take this opportunity to plug my first book, The Hard Way.

Be sure to pick up your copy of The Hard Way! It is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book.

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Here is the link! The Hard Way

Week 3 – Countdown to Book Launch – The Hard Way

27 days to go!

Under a month to go!

The name of the self publishing game is choices and making the right ones. Thank goodness I have Facebook writers’ groups I follow and other sources through networking I have done that are able to guide me on my publishing journey. There are many options for becoming a self published author. I have been researching all sorts of ways to do it and have learned a lot.

Don’t pay a vanity press to be published. The number one rule in the process. Now, to make your book ready to be published, there are expenses that can be incurred along the way. After you have put your time in writing and self editing (which has a price to it, even though it seems free since there is no actual outlay of money involved), as a self published author you will need to pay for an editor and cover. If you can find an agent and publishing house that will take your book on, they will typically take care of these costs for you.

When I first had the dream of doing this as a kid, I’m sure I didn’t have any idea that it would cost me something. I figured every one would love my book and publishing would just magically happen. I believe I have a good book in my grasp, but I may have to make the effort and invest the money to get it out there.

It isn’t a cheap endeavor. I waited a long time before I took the plunge to publish. I started writing this book almost four years ago. Like I talked about last week, I wrote two drafts for two more books while I waited to publish this one. Don’t let the costs or the time that it may take do it discourage you. If it is what you want, go for it!

The other thing I will caution you on is don’t shortcut the self publishing process in the name of being in a hurry or to cut costs.

Don’t try and edit your own stuff or have your friend do it (unless they truly are an editor). I have read a few self published books that tried the self editing thing and it doesn’t work. You are too close to your own writing to do it. I have learned a lot from my editor and see the issues that my own writing has thanks to her. Depending on the type of editing your project needs and how many words it is will determine the price. Line editing (primarily grammar and punctuation) can range between $300-$600. Developmental editing (story line adjustments and content reading) can range between $1200-$2000.

If you are not a cover designer, pay someone to design your cover. This will be the first thing your readers and potential buyers will see. It can make or break a sale for you. There are many designers that have premade covers for $50-$75 that may fit your book and budget. Otherwise, they are also able to do custom covers for more of a $200-$300 price tag. In my opinion, it is money well spent.

The one thing I have noticed is that some editors and cover designers are able to do payment plans to help you get these jobs done. I did a payment plan for my editing piece of this project and it is what ultimately made it affordable for me to do. However, if I would have known about these costs beforehand, I would have been putting money aside for it as I was going along.

Where am I at in my process?

I finished my final read through of my manuscript yesterday and sent it back to my editor. She will do a final look over and get the final formatting done. I may have to look at it one more time to make sure that the spacing works.

My cover designer has my cover set for me to look at. I’ll be able to take a look and see if the spacing works or if I feel it needs to be tweaked. I still need to decide on an author picture. Since I’m writing with a pen name, it seems kind of funny for me to use my photo, but I’m still the person writing the book.

Once I get the final version back, I’ll be sending it in to copyright.gov and getting it registered for an official copyright.

Be sure to stay tuned for the cover reveal next Monday! We are counting down the days and I’m getting closer to realizing a dream. Pretty exciting time.

Status Update for The Hard Way

Happy Monday! Lately I have been pretty busy with things at my full time non writing job. It has caused me some stress about not having the kind of quality time I want to have to work on my manuscript. Everyone says that you need to make time to write which I believe is true. But with any creative endeavor, sometimes things just can’t be rushed. The delays, self imposed or life imposed, are sometimes a part of the creative process.

I’m lucky the deadline on publishing The Hard Way is on my own schedule. It allows me to tweak things on the schedule if needed. If the editing to make this book the best I can takes a little longer, I can let it. Deadlnes can be very motivating to get things done. Sometimes I think it adds an additional level of stress to a process that may be comprimised if it is rushed.

We had useasonably warm weather last week and it allowed me to start walking at lunchtime again. There is a historical site across the street from where I work. It is called the Cummins Homestead.

According to the Eden Prairie Historical Society website, John Cummins had come to west to Minnesota and bought this 300 acre farm in 1856. Not knowing much about being a farmer, by 1857, he learned that he may have taken on a pretty big project. This house was built for them in 1879-1880. John was frequently trading labor with his neighbors, but John did help with some of the building. John and Maddie never had any children to help them work the farm. I found that interesting. Usually people had big families to help run a farm.

Cummins sold the farm in 1908 to Edwin Phipps. He sold 280 acres for $50 per acre. When he bought it in 1856, he paid $13 an acre. If you want to learn more about the Cummins Homstead, be sure to check out this website Eden Prairie Historical Society. They also have many of John Cummins papers and diaries in the Minnesota Historical Society archives.

I was able to walk around on the grounds twice last week. The walk was good exercise, but it also cleared my head a little to shake off some of the stress I’ve been feeling.

While I sat on a bench at the Cummins Homestead, I was working on an e-mail to my editor with a couple of updates on getting the current round of editing implemented and a read through done. As I wrote the e-mail, it turned into journalling a feeling that I was having about why I write. Here is the last paragraph of that email.

I dream about one day just being an author. Writing books, visiting schools to talk about books and mentoring kids and their dreams. The sky’s the limit when it comes to what those dreams are. I know that some kids need that person to take their hand and get them started. That is where I want to be with my writing someday.

There are many places to go and write. Some find inspiration in coffee shops and others find it at a lake cabin in the woods. I think I found a place that helps me tap into my creative juices and helps them flow. Like tapping a tree for sap to make maple syrup.

On my walk that day, I got some ideas for what would tentatively be book number four in the series I have started. I am only close to publishing the first book. I hope I find the readers who will enjoy and benefit from the stories I have in me to tell.

So for the update…

I sent my edited copy of my manuscript beck to my editor yesterday. We will see what she has to say, but I believe we are really close to having it ready to go and my personal goal of publishing on April 15th is very doable. If so, March will be a big month with a cover reveal and starting the prepublishing hype. I’m scared but excited to almost having my dream come true. I may be spending some more time at the Cummins Homestead in the near future. Not only to get those creative juices flowing, but to start editing book number two in “The Way” series. 

This week at the Writing House

Happy Monday!

Things are moving right along with The Hard Way’s journey to publish. I worked through the recent round of edits from my editor and started on the post editing read through. It is  so rewarding to watch the development of the book as it goes through the different rounds of editing. Having the punctuation right is just one part. Making sure the grammar works and the word choices are the right ones are other parts of the process. All of the work is put in to make their story the best reading experience it can be. That’s the ultimate goal of a writer, right?

I’m noticing even my writing for the blog has changed from things I’ve learned from the editing process. I’m more conscience of my over use of the word that and really, both are extra words which have their place in writing, but are not to be over used.

This week’s quote is a motivator for me to get things with my writing done. I’ve looked at it several times and feel the good vibe it puts out for me. There have been struggles to get through while trying to achieve my dream to publish a novel. But the end is near and I can see the light.

I just need to stay positive and not get frustrated. Need to work hard, which is how I always seem to do things in my life. And, get those things done. Finish the tasks I need to get done to get this story published. As long as I continue to persevere, it will pay off with a self published novel. Have a good writing week everyone!

And Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope all of you can enjoy the day with someone you love, if not a sweetheart, maybe a parent, grandparent or a child. Or a friend, someone who may need a little love shared with them. Hugs go a long way to making someone feel special, and make us feel good too.

Thoughts in the Writing House

Monday night: I’m sitting in my recliner watching some major league playoff baseball; the Dodgers versus the Nationals. Just letting myself relax after a hard day at work.

It feels weird to not have any writing to work on right now. It is a nice break, but I keep thinking that I am supposed to be doing something. Guess I am excited to get working on The Hard Way’s manuscript again.

Thursday: Next batch of edits came from my editor Michelle. I plan to jump into those over the weekend. Like I have said, it is a lot of work, but so cool to see how the clean up is really bringing the story out and making it shine. It also gives me a great opportunity to clarify ideas and fix the storyline that needs fine tuning.

Saturday: I am seeing the colors of the leaves changing and the cooler air of fall settling in. Gives me a beautiful view as I write. Sitting at my computer today with a comfortable feeling provided by an extra sweater. Love this time of year. Will continue to work on the edits as I enjoy a pumpkin spice coffee to keep me warm and comfortable.

Sunday: While watching a little NFL football, I read through the rest of manuscript showing all of the edits from Michelle. I worked through the suggested changes and either accepted them or rejected them. I’ll let it sit for the rest of the night and read through the manuscript a couple of times during the upcoming week to make sure the story line works and everything still sounds right.

The goal is to have this section revised and sent back to Michelle by the end of the month. I think it will be more than doable. It feels really good to be making progress.

This week at the Writing House

Hello! Still at the desk in the writing house this week. I was able to work through the changes that my editor Michelle sent to me and I completed a first read through of the updated manuscript. The process pointed out a couple of fixes that needed to be made.

After I added my editor’s suggested changes, it was like weeding a garden. I was able to read through a cleaner manuscript and focus on the storyline to make sure that it was developing the way I wanted it to. I renamed a couple of things and reworked some sections that smoothed out the evolution of the story itself. It also helped to clarify my MC’s feelings and added some more depth to his character. I think it may have made him even a little more engaging.

I’ll be spending the rest of this week working on a second read through, maybe make a few more tweaks to it before I send this section back to my editor. Then she will send me another section to work through. Although it is a lot of work, I can see the changes helping it evolve into the story that I imagined; and more. Can’t wait until it is ready to publish and then share it with my readers and followers.

Back to the Writing House

Since last weekend, I’ve been working on a couple of formatting changes to my blog, including new categories and colors. Trying to give it a fresh look and clean it up a bit.

After some soul searching last week, I decided to jump back into my edits for my WIP, The Hard Way. My goal is to get the manuscript done and get the novel ready to publish. Lately, I have been spending a lot of time with the blog, which has been keeping me writing. However, I had a voice nagging in the back of my head asking, “when is it time to finish the novel?” I guess I can say that life got in the way, but that seems to happen to me when it comes to my own writing goals.  Maybe I’m scared of achieving my dream or maybe I’m waiting for the right moment to do it. I’m not sure. But I have decided that now it the time to make it happen.

Part of building this writing house is getting the novel done. Not only is it a goal of mine, but it is also a big milestone on my writing journey. I enjoy the writing that I do on my blog, but once my first book is out there, the writing house takes on a whole new look. We will then have to install bookcase in the house, for our own books.

I still plan to do a weekly post for #MondayBlogs and WordPress postaweek, but will be keeping things a little shorter for a while. Now on a weekly basis, I will have status updates on how my editing is going and what interesting things I’ve learned by doing it.

By taking two days of vacation from work and making a four day weekend out of it, I decided it would be the perfect time to get started. So, on Wednesday night after work, I cleaned off the writing desk to get ready to jump back into my Word file that holds the current version of The Hard Way

Thursday morning comes. After getting the kids off to school and Sam off to work, I took care of some things around the house so I could clear my plate to get started. After grabbing a cup of coffee, I sat down to my laptop and the system needed to do some updates. I sighed and decided to do them. One more hurdle to my starting my project. It took quite a while to get those updates done, must have had a lot of them to do. Finally the computer is ready. It is time to begin!

Are you ready to join me on this writing journey?

The Secret Pond – Chapter 6 – Abigail

Here is the last installment of The Secret Pond. I hope you have enjoyed this writing journey with me. I feel good about completing the story. I learned a lot along the way about myself and my writing style. Writing this story in installments every week as a “pantster” has been challenging for me. I found out that I could do it, but it isn’t where my writing strengths are. It adds an element of pressure for me to not only create it within a timeline but also have it well edited and ready to publish. I envy those writers that write with deadlines like these every week.

Chapter 6 – Abigail

Continue reading “The Secret Pond – Chapter 6 – Abigail”

Moving Forward and Making Progress

After last week’s post, I felt pretty bummed out about how my writing has been going. I know that things have been really busy in my life lately, but when it comes to my writing, I felt like I was letting myself down.

When I was planning out what the subject of this week’s blog was going to be, it started to sound like more whining about how much time I don’t have to write. Obviously, this issue has been weighing on my mind a lot. Then I read the comments of another blogger who was having the same type of problem as me. Seeing that I wasn’t the only one, I decided to accept the issue I’m having with making time to write and just start making time to write.

I stopped, took a deep breath and thought about finding a small project I could start working on to get my brain back in the writing groove. I looked at the yet to be posted blogs for The Secret Pond and wondered what direction I could take it.

Over the weekend I read a post by a WordPress blogger that I follow, BeetleyPete. The post is called Archival neglect. It is about how we bloggers don’t seem to do much with our archived works. So, he decided to dust off some of his favorites, create links in his post and showcase them for his newer followers to see. Many of you weren’t following my blog when The Secret Pond was originally posted on BlogSpot. Only the prologue and first two chapters were posted previously. So, maybe I’ll rework these posts a little bit and repost them for you.

When I started this last year, it was hard to write the story in pieces on a weekly basis. As I reread through it yesterday,  I can see that it didn’t get the time and attention that it really needed trying to do it that way. I’ve learned a lot more about my craft since then, and I know that I can make it better.

So, here is the revised version of the Prologue of The Secret Pond. Originally published June 8, 2015.

The Secret Pond is inspired by the A to Z blogging challenge in May 2015 and the Morning Walk blog entry from June 9, 2015. This is the first installment.

Prologue

Abigail Watson lived in the carriage house at the Baxter’s country estate just outside of Superior, Wisconsin. She not only tutored Sally Baxter in her studies, she also helped Sally’s mom, Jean, with planning for the many events she hosted at their house. From teas, to lunches, and dinner parties, the house was always seemed to be a bustle of activity.

Sally’s parents were able to give her anything she wanted. But all she really wanted was a friend. Abigail was nice, but she seemed to be there more for her Mom than for her. Sally would ask Abigail to come and explore the grounds with her. She would always say she had too much to do. Just like her parents would say when she asked them.

Their school day was from 8:00 AM to noon Monday through Friday. They covered four subjects, English, History, Science and Math. English was fun and her favorite. Sally got to read stories and write about them. History was fun, she learned a lot about things that happened in our country. They were told through many stories written by the ones who experienced it. Science was o.k. She loved the earth science part and when they went outside to find insects and animals, but didn’t like having to learn about continental plates, weather patterns and theories. Math was the worst. Abigail just started teaching Sally about multiplication and division. Memorizing those math tables was just not working for her.

She seemed to get the best inspiration for her writing from the secret pond, probably because it got her away from the craziness of her house. The pond was located in the woods in the back part of their property. Sally loved to go there with her light green Dora the Explorer backpack, her stuffed bear, Clyde, her little yellow notebook and the pink Hello Kitty pen that actually wrote with pink ink. She loved to write stories about fairies and gardens.

The one thing that Abigail would do is let her read the stories she created in her favorite yellow notebook. Sally was so happy to have an audience for her stories. At the end of her school session, they would take time to let Sally read what she had written. As she shared her adventures with Abigail, Sally longed to have a friend just like Lila, the fairy who she wrote about in her stories.

Sally decided that she needed a companion. She was an only child living in a big house way out in the country, away from town. Her great-grandfather had done well in the shipping business. And the family continued to live in his house and off of the money made by his hard work. She was finding comfort in the imaginary friend she was creating through her writing. So, she changed Lila from a fairy in her stories into a girl, just like Triton did with Ariel in the movie The Little Mermaid.

They would go on adventures together in her stories and her imagination. One time Sally saw a movie with her Aunt Judy about a unicorn that lived in the woods that wound up saving the entire forest. Sally became inspired to write a story about how her and Lila met up with a unicorn.

She brought her books back to her bedroom after class. Looking out of her bedroom window, she saw the clouds building and the wind picking up. She grabbed her yellow rain slicker to keep warm and dry.

“Make sure you grab your yellow jacket, Lila,” Sally said, “we don’t want to get wet.”

And they headed out together to the pond.

This has been a lesson for me to make time for the things I want to do and not get so frustrated when I don’t. It is important to work towards the goals we set for ourselves and not let life get in the way as much as it does.