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Welcome, dear Reader!
I hope you enjoy my new home in the internet. For the last few days I’ve been polishing the story that is only available for subscribers to my newsletter. It is the story of how North Watch Keep came into existence, and the favor that Rockton Marsh (an unlikely hero) did for the daughter of the King of the Fae. I hope you enjoy it.
The rest of this week I will be working on moving posts and adding the pieces so that the purchase buttons will work here too. I need to have everything in place before school starts in a week. It will be a lot of work, but I am a teacher. I am used to hard work.
Today’s excitement? I finally mastered Scrivner compile. I managed to produce both Kindle and epub versions of Son of a King. (The first time! Go me! Research and stubborn for the win! I am really my father’s daughter). So, if you have not thrown your name onto the mailing list, you should do it. Everyone on the mailing list before the auto-magic list pieces go live will get the story, too. And, anyone on the mailing list will get a chance for preview copies of work and coupon codes for the new book: Dragons’ Court.
Welcome, dear Reader! I am excited to see you here, peaking at the bones of this empty building. Right now the rafters are empty. The bookshelves need filling, and someone needs to fix the cash register. But, it is still mine.
If you didn’t realize it, right now everything is still under construction.
At the moment, the newsletter sign up page needs some help. (Sorry, Learning curve ahead). If you do not get an opt-in email when you sign up for the newsletter it means I did not manage to fix the problem. Please let me know at email@example.com. I am working on it, and I will let you know when it goes live.
I will be offering book purchases on this site for all the different formats, including KOBO (just for you, Auntie EJ), Kindle, iBooks and PDF. We just have to make sure the buttons all work.
There will also be an awesome ‘members only’ space just for subscribers to the email list. Members will get to preview the first parts of the novellas and novels, read a few stories from story collections for a week or two, find some of my character art and other cool things. This area is still under construction (and under wraps until the store opens).
The plan is for me to move everything here by September 1. Subscribers to my newsletter will get a bonus (yes, an awesome freebie!), advance notice for my new book releases and maybe even a coupon code or two…..
This past week has been a lot of crazy up and down. I am still trying to juggle all the writing as a career pieces–publishing, marketing, editing, writing and more writing–along with the stuff of life: keeping the jungle in the back yard from taking over again, running youngest to physiotherapy, work, and appointments, doing housework, and attempting to get the house back to go before school.
So far, the results are mixed. The back yard is not a ten foot high jungle like last summer; it is only a half a wild jungle. The house is kind of OK. I’ve been doing things like putting in new lighting in the bathrooms, and then convincing my dad to come fix the mess I made trying to wire in the safe plugs. The living room is full of stuff. I tell myself this is because youngest has started to sort her things to take back to school and has nothing to do with the fact I worked my way through one and a half courses on writing and marketing (knitting the whole time), transcribed a novella and another story, made a new website and figured out how to set things up to sell my books on Kobo and iBooks. Youngest and her stuff are my excuses and I am sticking to it.
I am pretty sure my muse is running from project to project because she cannot quite believe that I really mean I am going to keep letting her play. She isn’t convinced even though the plan is five shorter pieces and two novels in the next year.
The novella I stuffed into the word processor is set in the same universe as the last novella about a hundred years later and has dragons, psychics with the overlord gifts, and magic. I started thinking about character arcs and how the characters develop through the story to a satisfying end point. Then my Inner Hundred Pound Editor started asking those pesky why questions. Why would the male protagonist kidnap his bride instead of asking her to come along? Why would the dragons appear out of nowhere? Why do I say the main characters love each other, but not show it? Why don’t the dragons show up at the beginning of the story? The more questions my inner editor asked, the more I realized I needed to add scenes and change details to make the story clear and coherent. My inner editor threw the whole timing piece out the window.
At the beginning of the week my plan looked like this: share the novella with the editorial team on Monday. Work through suggested edits next weekend, plan a launch for the first week in September. Truthfully? I have added almost 5K words to the novella in the last two days and I am not quite done. I am not sure the manuscript will manage to get to the editor by Monday. I am still going to do my level best to ‘make it so’ but I have at least that much more to go of new stuff before I get to the edits of the work that is there now. Since my brain will only write for so long every day the two story collections and the Cardonne episode are currently languishing as the novella takes up my muse’s play time. It is all about balance, right?
On the marketing side, I finished Michael Hyatt’s Get Published. (excellent with a lot of great food for thought, and started on ‘Your first 10 000 readers.’ Your first 10 K Readers is about marketing in a smart, friendly way. It is the first course of its kind I’ve found that works through the marketing of Fiction in a way I can handle. Honestly? There are all these people who are telling you that they can help you make lots of money writing. They all have this amazing system that makes money without a lot of work (that they will sell you for lots of money, sometimes making me wonder if that is really how they are making their money). The cynic in me discounts the words ‘easy and fast’ pretty quickly.
I am halfway through 10K. I have gotten farther than I have ever gotten with setting up the things I need for marketing. His step by step lessons are thorough, logical and helpful. My author website is set up,. I created a mailing list (with a subscribe page even) and I started to work through some of the systems that need to be in place for marketing. I even know what my sign up bonus will be for my subscribers.
This means, dear Reader, you will soon find me over at eliwinfieldauthor.com.
In September I will blogging about writing at my own little piece of the internet universe. If you want to watch all the changes as my author website gets set up, please come on over to Eli Winfield Author and follow me there. I am excited and a little bit scared. This blog feels like home. I don’t know if I can figure out how to migrate all my blog posts from here to there. But my new website has a proper book shelf page and subscribe buttons and all these other awesome things. And it is mine.
Still, my bottom line is all about story. No matter how much I learn about marketing, about finding and connecting with readers, and writing as a career, none of it will make a difference if I don’t have any stories to sell. Published authors, authors I admire and read and reread, have more than one book to sell. This mean I need to do all the things to have books available for you, dear Reader, to buy. Which means I need to write, edit, launch, release and repeat…
There are people who make money at this crazy thing called writing. In my first month with book 1, I have done pretty well all things considered. With book 1, I did not do all the things I know that will help sell more books–like creating a proper launch, finding the right key words, having a mailing list, doing advertising, and all that jazz. But, I still made enough to have pizza a few times a month. With youngest becoming an engineer on my penny, I need to write and sell enough to make decent money but my bottom line is the story.
I want to write and share stories that I love. It is fun to have others enjoy playing with my imaginary friends. We all know my muse jumps from story to story with glee, picking up and dropping her toys across the floor faster than I can usually keep up. I will not promise to put all the books I write in one universe. I will never be that writer who writes forty-five books in a series with the same characters, but I will try to keep the first few in the same universe. A hundred years apart or so, but in the same universe, with dragons and psychics and magic…
What I am learning about writing is that there is always something else to do. This is very true because I am trying to stuff creating the vast majority of my ‘author website’ development in before I get back to school and life interferes with the writing schedule.
This week, my list is a little bit crazy in a good way. I am trying to get through:
That is not counting all those life things like taking youngest to physiotherapy and work, weeding the garden, cleaning the house, painting, organizing the insane amount of stuff that got moved but never got unpacked and thinking about knitting. You know, life.
Right now, I am super proud of myself because I just finished making my basic author website (under my name even!) with a sign up form. Of course, now I get to figure out how to get all the things from here to there but I can do that. It isn’t ready for visitors quite yet
Bottom line: if you have not investigated ‘Your First 10000 Readers’ and you are an author that wants to have an online presence that is managed in a thoughtful way, you should really check out this course. I’ve tried several different ways to get myself over the online presence hurdle (set up a proper website with purchase my books buttons, and a sign up/email list button) since I started trying to become a serious author. This course is the course that got me there, and I am only half way through.
Excited cannot begin to cover it!
The first draft of the newest novella is done!
With the help of Nayor, a black dragon, Anary and Flax try to stop Jentha from overrunning Fairhaven.
And the book description:
The Overlords were once called the Speakers of the Dragons but no one in Fairhaven thinks dragons exist. Lord Flax, General of Fairhaven, is caught between the ‘Cleansing’ of the peasants and the war with Jentha. Now his dreams are being invaded by Anary, a beautiful peasant with a powerful overlord gift who hears dragons. But even with the help of Nayor, a black dragon, can Anary and Flax save Fairhaven?
The novella’s current working title is Lord Flax’s Lady, but I am not sure if this is the right one. Other titles I’ve come up with include The Dragon’s Court; Flax and the Dragons; Speaker for the Dragons or Anary, Sword of Justice.
Anyone have a preference?
Do any of you struggle with picking a book title?
I knew that publishing would in some way move me from writer to author but I think I underestimated the impact becoming a ‘published author’ would have on my life. Something undefinable changes when you publish. In one way this is good–becoming an author creates new challenges. When you let those words out into the world, they begin to take on a life of their own. But, in another way publishing is painful and frustrating and draws you out of yourself. My current challenge is learning how to deal gracefully with the dreaded typo.
Gracefully? Ha! My family would laugh at the very word. When I am learning a new skill, I am not graceful. A trusted friend found typos in North Watch Keep, and I had a (mostly) private temper tantrum. I had done my level best to make that story perfect and it wasn’t. After I got upset, I struggled with a wave of overwhelming self-doubt. Did I have a gift worth sharing? Was I really an author? What right did I have to call myself an author if there were mistakes in my work? I know. I know. More than a little foolish, right?
The members of the Tower, my fabulous HPKCHC dorm mates, reassured me that mistakes happen all the time, and they happen to big authors with huge editorial teams. I listened to Michael Hyatt explains in Get Published that typos are part of the process. You should expect them. When someone finds them, you deal with them and move on with grace and professionalism. When Terry O’Dell started talking about editing in her blog , I started to take a deep breath. It reassured me to I discovered a writer I admired struggles with the same things I do in the first draft–spelling, name drift, manuscript inconsistencies and wandering Stetsons. No one else talks about name drift when they talk about writing. Everyone talks about typos.
Mistakes happen. Logic errors happen. Typos happen. Even with all the work that goes into a manuscript to make it perfect and the number of people who looked at it before it goes to print, typos and errors hide in plain sight. Then, when you least expect it, they jump out and grab you by the throat in public. Writers and editors work hard to keep them from getting published, but it is usually easier for the reader to find them than for the authorship team to see them. I don’t know why finding errors wasn’t something I expected after publication. I expect it at work. When my students find errors in my writing, I usually tell them there is one of me and fifty of them proofreading and they are good at proofreading. My readers are no different. They are great proofreaders.
I have not yet gotten to graceful so I shall strive to keep my personal challenges hidden in my private pillow fort. I have been stuck in ‘writer’ mode for a long time. I was always afraid I was not perfect enough, that others will look down on me because of mistakes in my writing. The fear didn’t go away because I let a book out into the world. However, I am not going to hide my head in the sand and ignore the errors. The joy of publishing an eBook is that you don’t have to sell a print run of 6000 books before you fix the errors. I have a team of people who are helping, but like the authors I admire, I take full responsibility for the errors. That means, dear reader, if you find an error in one of my books, please tell me and I will do my best to deal with it.
And, if you liked the story, please tell others. You can leave a review on Amazon, join my author’s Facebook page, or leave a note on my blog.
This week I got my first review (five stars! Yay!).
I also got my first critical feedback on North Watch Keep. When I offered to fix the problem in the next edition, my friend’s reaction was classic: “This is published! Leave it alone. This is about your Career, not this piece.”
And then she gave me this book:
If you write you need to read this book. If you are a writer, you need to read this book and then you need to take her advice. Write. Make your writing the best you can, and then let it out into the world because it it your gift to share. And then do it again. And again. And again. It isn’t about one piece; it is about your Career.
Until my friend used the word Career, I hadn’t realized I was stuck in perfect (as Holly Lisle says) even though I have been afraid for years to let my work be read because I believed my manuscripts were not good enough. They had too many typos, too many flaws and imperfections. Even after publishing North Watch, I didn’t realize that I was still afraid my writing wasn’t perfect enough.
In her book, Rusch argues very convincingly that editing work to the point of structural perfection can destroy it. Often it is the imperfections that are the writer’s heart, the voice of the piece, the parts that fuel the imagination of the reader. The ‘workshop model’ is harmful to most writers, she argues, because it is based the pursuit of structural perfection and editing to the point of perfect can take away the soul of the work. There is a a very funny ‘workshop style’ criticism of Shakespeare’s work that made me ask what if she was right? What would we have lost if Shakespeare had simply put his words away in a box, never to see the light of day?
When I started exploring how to become a better writer I went to a one day workshop with a local editor. I thought the workshop would help me figure out where I was stuck, help me somehow become a better writer or find an editor, but when I came home I felt unworthy. The piece I wrote in the workshop was more of a vignette than a story; I got criticisms about structure and style and told that it wasn’t a real story. I know I missed the fact my listeners were stopped dead by the emotion of the piece and made uncomfortable by the mourning. There was that long moment of uncomfortable silence as they processed the feelings of the piece. That night, while I was explaining to my husband that I that I should just give up on this dream of becoming a published author because I obviously wasn’t good enough, Youngest stomped down the stairs with the first draft of North Watch Keep in her hands.
“Mom! Why is the Old Man talking here? He is dead! You killed him at the beginning of the story.” When I explained he was Fey, she snorted. “That is Not Clear. Fix it.” And then she stomped back up the stairs.She made me remember I was a writer because she saw the story in her head and it annoyed her that I had messed something up and taken her out of the movie.
Letting your writing out into the world is a lot like like letting your child go to Kindergarten. You sit at home worrying because your child might not be perfect and the teacher might not like them and think you are a bad parent as a result. Um, reality check. Your child is not perfect. They are not supposed to be perfect; they are supposed to be growing and learning and exploring and becoming. Not everyone will like them and that is OK because they will find their friends. It isn’t as bad the second time around with child number two. I’m hoping the next book will be the same. It won’t be perfect but it will be the best writing I know how to do.
I’ve been pondering why some people say that my writer’s group is ‘hardcore’ and I think it might be this: we tell people what we like about their writing. We aren’t mean. We ask what people are working on and how it is going and for some accountability is intimidating, I guess. I know that having to tell Preston about my progress or lack of it was what got me through the last push of Duodeca. Mostly, though, we listen and tell others when their writing touches us in some way, where it works for us. Rusch points out that the most terrifying moments in her own workshops are when she tells someone that their writing is ‘good enough to share’. Most writers (myself included) panic when they hear that feedback, wondering when the audience is going to realize we are faking it and that we are just making it all up. As Youngest laughingly pointed out to me: you are making it up! You are a writer. That is what writers do–they make up tales.
Before he moved away for school we had a poet who regularly shared his work with the group. His poetry is beautiful– haunting and inspiring–but he had a hard time when we introduced him to new members of the group as an author of beautiful poetry. I was very sad he took down his blog from fear of political reprisals. I wish the world was a place where writing was safe, where he didn’t need to fear governments because he wrote about things that matter to him. I wish he would plant his flag and stand where his writing is taking him because his writing is beautiful. And I understand his feelings, too, because I have struggled with the same thing when someone introduces me as an Author of amazing thrillers.
As I transcribe the writing that will become the next two books of short stories and the next novella (Yes Dear Reader, I finally found the first page tucked inside another story! I have the whole book not just the second half! You have no idea how excited I am about this!) and I write the next novel, I remind myself that I am an Author. I am building a career, one I have always wanted. I have more than ten books in me (many more than ten books lol). There are so many stories I have yet to share with you. The goal is to play and learn and become and be authentic. Authentic, not perfect.
I got the email from KDP that says the book is live in the store, but when I go look at it I get the ‘pricing not available for your country’. It will be there, I am assured, within 24 hours. Nothing is ever smooth, right?
In life news, we have green tomatoes in the garden and youngest got her casts off. The old casts were moving about an inch up and down her arms which kind of defeats the purpose of casts. The doctor took off the too loose casts, looked at the x-rays and then decided she didn’t need them any more. Now we are both Yay! but yesterday we were still in denial. ‘What? Really?! No Way!’ Physiotherapy starts next week.
In writing news, I have added another 2K to the Finder. I discovered that I had two different Scrivener files for the Finder this morning. One has a lot of the early life and excitement, along with the accident that happens the day her first mentor retires. The second had the whole series of scenes two years later when she realizes she is being targeted by a serial killer because she is finding his bodies. They are all part of the same story so I think I need to put them all together.
I am also starting to compile two anthologies of short stories. ‘Life and other strangers’ includes stories that are more modern time frame or science fiction, with a bit of a twist. The Girl who Dropped in for Dinner (a story about an Alien who accidentally arrives the afternoon of Thanksgiving Dinner) will be in this one. My room mate from college made me finish that story by locking me in my room after reading the first three quarters of the story.
The second anthology has the working title “Tea with Dragons.” It has the pieces that are more fantasy and medieval settings, like my short story ‘Outside the Lines’. There is also a short piece called ‘The Bard’ relating to one of my longer novels that should be coming out next year.
In marketing news, I’ve started a Facebook page (Eli Winfield Author). I’m up to 31 likes (yay–they like me!). Come and stop by and chat. I am also gearing myself up for organizing a proper email list with a free short story. One day at a time, right.