Life Cycle of a Writer – The Battle and The Spoils

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

Well, it’s been something of a struggle the last couple of months on the writing front. I’ve been working on my structural edits for my next book, The Birthday Girl, which involved cutting out 40k words – very nearly half the book. I had taken a gamble on part of the plot where I introduced a police enquiry and to be blunt, it didn’t pay off. I couldn’t quite capture what I was trying to achieve. At several points, I wasn’t sure cutting so much out was doing the right thing and my confidence took something of a dip. I began to question my wisdom with the big changes I had made but, at the same time, knew not making those changes would produce a book that no-one would be happy with.

I did at one point wish I hadn’t started writing the book at all and that I could shove it in the bottom drawer and never look at it again. However, in reality, that wasn’t an option. I had to work out how I could rewrite it so it was more me and more the sort of book I like to write and read.

I had lots of support from my publishers, editor, agent and not least my family, who have all been very patient and understanding. I worked out how I could bring the focus back onto my main characters and with a certain amount of uncertainty I rewrote 40k words, the outcome being 94k words which I was much happier with. It felt like my book when I sent it back to my editor.

At this point, I’m still waiting for her feedback so I have my fingers crossed that she will like what I’ve done. I think there will be some more work needed on it before we move onto the next round of edits but nothing on the scale of the first round.

There have been lots of brighter moments, of course, not least seeing the Hungarian covers of Sister Sister and The Girl Who Lied and foreign rights for both books selling in six countries. Penguin Germany made an offer and wanted a response by midday, which happened to be the day I was out and about and hadn’t checked my emails. My agent had to text me and tell me to look at my emails – urgently!

I also saw a ‘shelfie’ of Sister Sister in Target stores in America. I knew it was going into the stores but actually seeing a picture made it seem real. So, thank you to the lovely book blogger who took the time to tag me on Instagram for that. Again, through Instagram, I was tagged in a post from a book club based in Houston who read my book and had a great discussion about sisters and families. It’s wonderful when you hear things like that and it’s the biggest thrill I get from writing.

I’m heading off to Italy next week with my lovely Romaniac pals, Laura and Catherine, for a writing retreat headed up by Sue Moorcroft at Arte Umbria. It was my intention to get the first draft of my next book completed but with the way things have gone with the edits, it’s not a realistic ambition but I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it written anyway. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with other writers, which always has a positive impact on my own output. The prosecco and location, well, I’ll have to suffer those for my art!

Sue

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Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

I was just looking back at when I did my last update for Life Cycle of a Writer and can’t believe it was as far back as the end of November where I talked about feedback and had some great input from Sue Moorcroft and Louise Jensen, you can see the post here.

In that post I had recently gone through the editing process for my latest novel Sister Sister and now, by pure coincidence, I am going through the editing stage with my next book – currently untitled and no set release date yet.

In between these two editing stages, I’ve been pretty much occupied with writing my current wip. I must admit, I struggled for several weeks to settle on an idea. I had hoped it would just sort of come to me or that I would find inspiration in my folder marked ‘Book Ideas’. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, all the so-called book ideas either didn’t have enough story or no story whatsoever. I kept telling myself not to panic, that something was bound to occur to me but as the days and weeks rolled by, I started to question my wisdom. In the end I had to sit down and force myself to come up with at least one good idea.

I started by writing down themes I would like to explore and relationships that interested me. Then I wrote down some situations or circumstances that would put these ideas to the test, where there would be conflict and resolution needed. It took some time, but eventually I began to get the inkling of an idea. It wasn’t a clear idea and then took a few more weeks to develop into anything meaningful. By this time, I was up against the clock for my March deadline.

Towards the end of last year, myself and three other Romaniacs, Laura, Catherine and Lucie had planned a writing retreat weekend and this fell at the right time for me. It was the impetus I needed to kick-start some serious writing and to immerse myself in my story for three days without interruption. It was a lovely luxury and I benefitted hugely from it and went on to complete the first draft in just two months. I must admit, it was hard going with this one. Some books seem to flow and other books need rather more coaxing – this one was definitely a high maintenance one, but I got there in the end.

So now I’m about half-way through my structural edits, with several more rounds to go. Once the final proofed edits have been returned to my publisher, it will be back to plotting another novel, which hopefully will be more straight forward as I seem to have ignited my imagination again and already have three new ideas for books roughly plotted out.

Sue

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Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

img_0095Here, at Romaniac HQ, we’re preparing for spring and all the loveliness it brings – fresh hope, new ideas, Easter eggs …

This is what happened over winter:

Laura: I’ve had a busy three months, starting with a chest infection in December, when three of the James household were knocked out by the awful cough and wdky-in-whsmiths-travel-victoria-londoncold virus that swept the nation. Thankfully we were on the mend come Christmas and New Year as I spent the last part of December gearing up for the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill You. I took the Romaniac bus on a virtual blog tour starting on launch day, 9th January, and gigging all over the country right into the following week. No hotel rooms were smashed up, but there was plenty of celebrating and digesting of cake. I had a short story printed in February’s edition of Your Cat Magazine, and a book signing event at the ever-supportive Waterstones Dorchester on February 18th. And yesterday I received my first WH Smith shelfie. I knew WDKY was going into WH Smith Travel stores, but I hadn’t seen one for myself until Sue posted the photo.

Celia: I edited my NaNoWriMO children’s novel and slashed and burned my way through a grittier adult one, then threw myself back into the WIP which is nearly half completed, hooray! Also attended my first ever RNA committee meeting ready for my new role organising the judging etc. of the RONAs, which is going to be great fun if a bit scary…

Vanessa: After coming away from my writing retreat at West Dean College thoroughly inspired, I have almost finished the first draft of my new WIP. I’ve also been working on edits from my agent on the other book and trying not to get mixed up between the two! (Although… that could be an interesting mix-up!)

Debbie: Everything is much the same here since my last Life Cycle Post . I’m still writing, albeit sporadically, in between hospital appointments and the usual domestic chaos. However I’ve had a bit of a compelling change of heart. Instead of working on Novel two, ‘Country Strife,’ I’ve returned to the original, ‘Living in the Past.’ Yes, the one I’d almost given up on. It’s the nearest to completion and something inside me won’t give up on it. Not yet! I’ve also discovered I get more writing done when I work in local cafe bars and tea rooms. Who’d have thought it?

Sue: My fourth book with HarperImpulse was released in January and has been doing very well in the charts. I spent a long weekend on a writing retreat in Hampshire with Laura, Catherine and Lucie which really helped move my wip along. I’m in the very last stages of finishing it and will be sending to my agent in the next couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to catch up on some long overdue reading.

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Jan has been hard at it, gathering research and working on her second novel which is coming along nicely. While Lucie is doing a marvellous job juggling her university studies with editing her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club which is due to be released in May. Catherine has been working on a secret project which has involved some super-speedy writing and is currently working on her edits for this, not to mention running round after her twin girls – we have no idea how she manages it all.

Life Cycle of a Writer: Paperback Writer.

Paperback Writer

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What a busy, fun and exciting week this is. Yesterday, we Romaniacs celebrated our 5th birthday and cheered Sue’s fantastic thriller, Sister Sister, as it hit the top 5 on Kindle, today is Valentine’s Day, and Saturday, I’ll be at Waterstones Dorchester signing copies of What Doesn’t Kill You.

img_8935I was at Waterstones Dorchester on Valentine’s Day two years ago, signing copies of my second novel, Follow Me Follow You. It was such a lovely day. The table was perfectly decorated with red love hearts, books were wrapped in paper and bows, enticing customers to go on a blind date with their next read, and I spent the time chatting with people about books and authors.img_8939

I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s event. To have a paperback is special, even more so with What Doesn’t Kill You, as the front cover sports an author quote from my good friend and fellow Romaniac, Sue Fortin. Neither of us could predict that happening when we first met five years ago. There is also a depiction of a well-loved landmark on the front – Portland Bill lighthouse.lighthouse-cover-3There will be copies of the book available for purchase on Saturday, and I will have one of my trusty Pentel pens in hand, but which colour should I use?

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Do I go with blues and greens to complement the cover? Or should I stick with traditional black ink? I might just have to take my pencil case and decide on the day. What would you do?

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I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday. Dorchester is a fascinating Roman town, and it has literary links, too – Hardy referred to Dorchester as Casterbridge – so please do come and spend the day, and pop into the wonderfully supportive Waterstones.

I’m going to leave you with this classic Beatles hit 😀 https://youtu.be/xmVwo2DxkGg

Have a great week.

Laura x

Life Cycle of a Writer ~ Photo-diary ~ First year as a published author.

I can’t believe a year has passed since my debut novel As Weekends Go was published. I’ve been keeping a month by month journal to record all those exciting moments, both pre and post publication; something to treasure with fondness and pride and something I’d thoroughly recommend.

Here’s a taste of my ‘Year as a Published Author’ photo-diary …

Dec 2015 ~ Launch Day Celebrations.

Jan 2016 ~ Happiness and relief as some fabulous reviews started coming in (thank you, dear readers). I also set up my own blog and featured on several fellow bloggers’ sites with either a Q&A or guest post, all a joy to take part in and all hugely appreciated.

Feb 2016 ~ I discovered Canva –  a great site for creating promotional banners for social media.

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March 2016 ~ Cheered like crazy when As Weekends Go was selected for an Amazon Kindle daily deal promotion which subsequently saw it hit the top 100. Much Prosecco was cracked open and quaffed, I can tell you!

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I also visited York and Leeds in March for sequel research purposes which was highly rewarding.

April 2016 ~ Superb news! My book would also be coming out in paperback later in the year. Cue a virtual conga at Brigden Towers.

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May 2016 ~ One of my fave authors, Lisa Jewell, agreed to read my novel with a view to potentially providing a quote for my paperback (much crossing of fingers, toes and eyes!).

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June 2016 ~ I learned I’d made ‘The Bookseller’ who reviewed forthcoming titles in paperback. A proud moment for sure. My lovely publisher Choc Lit also celebrated 7 years in business this month.lcoaw-choc-lit

July 2016 ~ Photo-shoot month, don’t laugh! I knew I needed some updated author pics, and with my good friend Noreen being an ace photographer, a date was fixed. What a giggle we had. Here are a couple that didn’t quite make the final … 😉

I also received my first ever royalty cheque this month, as well as this terrific quote from Lisa Jewell, following her ‘thumbs up’ for my novel : “I loved this gorgeous love story written with a sure touch and a big heart.”

August 2016 ~ The postman delivered these beauties ahead of paperback publication. I really did appreciate what it felt like to hold a copy of my book in my hands.

September 2016 ~ Paperback Publication Day on the 7th, and some brilliant messages from my fellow Romaniacs buddies: Romaniac Cheer  I even received a congratulatory tweet from Crystal Palace FC. I then discovered my book had been chosen as a weekly staff pick for Lovereading UK and was one of its debuts of the month.

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Towards the end of September I attended an author/blogger meet up in London which gave me a great chance to say hello to (and thank) faces both new and familiar. A good time was had by all, with much writerly and non-writerly chat and laughter. We were blessed with glorious sunshine too –  always a bonus.

October 2016 ~ I make no excuses. Not much writing took place this month as my staggered 50th birthday celebration pics reveal … I felt very loved and extremely pampered.

November 2016 ~ I managed to work on the sequel a bit more this month which lifted my spirits. It’s soul-destroying when the will is there but the self-belief and passion won’t play ball, so progress is progress as they say.

December 2016  ~  My book anniversary on the 4th, which I celebrated with a giveaway (runs until Friday 9th) with a chance to win a signed paperback of As Weekends Go plus some festive choccies. If you have a look at either my Facebook or Twitter page, you’ll see further details there 🙂

And now on the run up to Christmas, I thank you all for your friendship and support. I will be forever grateful for all those wise words of advice and encouragement offered to me both pre and post publication.

Have a fantastic Christmas & New Year!

Love Jan  x

 

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: When is Enough Enough?

When is Enough Enough?

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The Good Fight, as it was known, (ironic, now I think of it), never got beyond 20,000 words. The entire story was mapped out in my head, but for a variety of reasons, the last 80,000 words never made it onto the page. Ill health caused a delay, with debilitating headaches stopping me from sitting at the computer, but even on good days, I struggled to get the words onto paper. I loved the setting, the characters and the overall idea, but it just wasn’t working. Even now, I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong with it. All I know is it doesn’t have the spark, the electricity it needs to keep the reader gripped.

Many times I considered setting it aside and starting something new, but I was concerned I was being wooed by the sparkly new ideas, and if I let that happen once, there was a chance I’d never finish another novel.

Thank goodness for my wonderful Romaniac friends. They guided, advised, consoled, energised and supported me. And in the last few months, The Romaniacs have enjoyed some amazing successes – a number 1 in  the UK Kindle chart, agent representation, paperback releases, competition wins, superb reviews – and each one has spurred me on.

They inspired me into action.

So, after a year of slogging away on book 4, I’ve decided The Good Fight has fought its final battle and I’m allowing myself to be wined and dined by the new, sparkly ideas.

I’m in that exciting phase of discovering new characters, researching new issues, and opening a new Word document. I have a title, which Catherine, Sue and I work-shopped last week – a fabulous session over tapas and cocktails, or in my case, soda and lime – and I know how I want the story to evolve. I can feel it. I realise that is an element missing from The Good Fight. I cannot feel it. It hasn’t hit me in the stomach or made its presence felt. The new story arrived as a mass of feelings and emotions which I could not ignore, which is how I know it is right for me to move on.

The Good Fight may come into its own one day, but for now I’m going with my gut instinct.

Enough is enough.

And yes, I am singing along to Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer.

Laura xx

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Creating Promo Posts

Ah, the dreaded word ‘promotion’. Love it or hate it, like any other business, writers have to do it. Not only do we have to promote our books, but we have to find interesting ways of doing so, ways that will catch the eye of someone scrolling through their social media timeline. But it’s not just the subtle ‘buy my book’ posts that have to be interesting, it’s good business sense to make our profile pictures, our Facebook banners and Twitter headers look appealing too. They need to say something about our books or us as they are our advertising board, either directly or indirectly.

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We had a little chat about this at Romaniac HQ recently and the various different apps/software we use. We thought it might be handy to give a quick Romaniac Which Guide.

Canva used by Laura and Jan (www.canva.com)

Cost : Free unless using Canva’s paid for options.

Previous Knowledge : None – Easy to use.

Best thing about it : Is ideal for all types of social media, and can upload own images.

Any difficulties : I’ve found nothing difficult.

Overall : I can create smart, professional graphics in a matter of minutes.

Canvacanva Jan

 

Photogrid used by Catherine on her iPad

Cost : It’s a free download.

Previous Knowledge : None – very easy to use.

Best Thing : You just add the photos you want to use and can then add backgrounds, text, icons etc.

Any difficulties : I haven’t found it difficult to use with practice it’s fairly easy to use.

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Photoshop used by Sue  (www.photoshop.com)

Cost : £17 approx per month

Previous Knowledge : Would need some knowledge to do the basics. Tutorials can be found on YouTube.

Best Thing : You can size things accurately and layer/blend/merge different images.

Any difficulties : Using and understanding the terminology, especially when trying to Google a question.

Overall : Probably overkill for promo ads but if designing your own book covers, then would highly recommend.

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Vanessa uses various different software packages in her day job, such as, Photoshop, Indesign and Quark. In the past, I’ve used PowerPoint but it’s very difficult to not only get the sizing right but the quality and sharpness too – these are often lost when they are uploaded.

I’m sure there are lots of other apps and software out there. It would be interesting to hear what everyone else uses.

Sue

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