Archive for the ‘‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

April IWSG Day Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

Answer: No.

Truth is, I suck at marketing. I remember scoffing a few years back over a writer’s comment on LinkedIn, when he said he wouldn’t be doing any of his own marketing, he was ‘the talent.’ But, since then, I’ve barely done any marketing myself, so who am I to talk? It’s a big failing so I am outing myself, right here.

The reality for all of us as writers in today’s world is that more people are writing and publishing books than ever before in history, and fewer people are reading them. This from John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan: “There are fewer and fewer newspapers out there, and their audiences are shrinking. Discovery is an ever-growing problem. Big titles get bigger, and everything else gets harder and harder to find and sells fewer and fewer copies.”

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Every writer, actor, model, artist, dancer, and musician in the current environment has to sell themselves through social media. We understand how it works and we do our bit to tweet things and share for our friends. Yet, I still have a visceral reaction when someone I’ve been talking to on sm for a while turns around and asks me to buy their book. Just this week, a friend I’ve been talking to and liking posts with, etc, for a year sent me a private message on Facebook asking me to buy her book, and help her book get off the ground by participating in a thunderclap campaign. There’s a part of me that wants to help her as a good person should, and there’s a part of me that’s pissed off with her now. It’s like; she’s betrayed my trust, so I won’t view her connection with me the same way again. I can’t quite get over that feeling of betrayal, and I don’t want to do it to other people.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to tackle marketing.

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Five years ago, I read books on how to market myself as a new author. I started the blog. Tick. I set up my own website. Tick. I joined a bunch of social media sites and started chatting. Tick. I started compiling an email list and writing a regular newsletter. Tick. I made friends with everyone I met and traded details. Tick.

Yet, when my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ came out in 2015, not only did I not ask my friends to buy my book, I actually bought sixty copies and gave the books away. I posted packages to the really special friends I’d made on the net, all around the world. I thought I’m not going to make a penny out of this. And, I didn’t.

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*This is not something I would advocate for those writers starting out, who are hoping to make a living out of their work, by the way.

This trait means I can’t quite seem to get over the hump between me as the writer and the speed bump of selling my book to my friends. Lucky for me, profit is not as high on my list of priorities. I go by the adage, when you realize you have enough there’s always plenty. I run a tight ship and I have enough so I don’t need more. I like to measure my success by my personal growth and the good friendships I have made along the way. The online writers community is amazing. My friends are so sustaining and caring. Right now, that’s more important.

I love this life of being a writer, and creating books. I’m editing my second book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ and the message that comes through towards the end is how important his friendships are becoming to the hero, Aden. Interesting how life and one’s fiction often parallels, isn’t it?

How about you, what marketing do you do?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“If you don’t make mistakes you won’t make anything.” ~ Anon

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

Kids are visual creatures. They like to be entertained in every respect. As a child, I loved books with illustrations. When I morphed into reading chapter books as a young person I wanted the more complex stories, but I still wanted the imagery. I can remember really appreciating the authors who put ink illustrations in their chapter books. I have fond memories of poring over the minute squiggles and flourishes on the pages of Tove Jansson’s books.

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Last year, I prepared to release my first book, my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first book from The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I realized there was no way the budget would stretch to illustrations, so I came up with an easy solution.

Here’s  a guide to creating your own pen and ink book illustrations:

Step One: Start with your characters.

First, you must have some form of cover art for your book which you have either paid for or otherwise have liberty to use. For my debut novel, I had the two main characters rendered artistically in digital form by my nephew.

I simply copied the character with a pencil.

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Second attempt on Aden, for b&w illustration0002I wanted to introduce a new face. I took a photo of a statue of a giant which I found in a 1970’s magazine and copied the basic outline.

*Hot Tip: I use an automatic pencil, as they have the super fine leads. You want to do all the early stages on tracing paper.

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I already had my protagonist, Aden Weaver, rendered in pencil from last year, but I needed to change his position for this book so I lifted him into the air. This gave me a new image to work with. As I pinned down the character’s positions, I switched from pencil to a fine permanent marker pen.

*Hot Tip: You’ll need to see every line. A fine nib is necessary. I use a Staedtler “Triplus fineliner.” Every line needs to be carefully but clearly distinct.

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Step Two: Create the background and foreground

For this image, I decided to use one of a few special backdrops. A dear friend, Lyall Gardiner, had gifted me four of his ink/colour pencil backdrops before he passed. In A3, they’re enormous, so I selected elements from one image, the moon and wispy clouds and some of the looming shapes and traced them onto a more compacted A4 page.

You could use whatever you have to hand, interesting segments of your kids’ artwork, pieces of your own from childhood, or you could go wild and cut segments of out-of-date magazine pictures to create a montage/mosaic effect, etc. Use your imagination.

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*Hot Tip: Take care not to tread on rights to intellectual property.

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Step Three: Combine and Trace

The next part is to employ your artistic eye with placement. Arrange your characters on the background in a way that fits the “story” you want to tell. The great thing about using tracing paper is you can flip the characters over. I decided to “tell the story” of the Oni looming. However, I needed to flip our hero to have him face the giant. To do this, I simply turned the paper over and re-defined all the lines with pen on the reverse of the paper!

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Step Four: Fill it in!

I took my taped-together tracing paper image and copied it onto thick art paper. I used permanent markers and filled in the picture. I thought in terms of light and shadow, silhouette, of how things look in the dark, not drawing to be realistic but to create pattern – effect through contrast. I left certain patches: one or two to be left white and at least a few to be painted black. They added impact.

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The resulting image will be one of the two illustration plates for inside ‘The Sasori Empire.’ On Facebook, I shared it with the caption, ‘The horned face of the Oni appeared in the trunk, even more hideous than before, and a head of bark grew.’

Step Five: Copyright!

Make sure to add your name the copyright symbol and the year somewhere on your picture.

With a bit of effort, anyone can create at least a couple of illustrations to go inside their own book. These simple pen and inks are relatively easy, quick, and they’re super fun to do. You have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Have you ever tried your hand at your own illustrations?

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Talk to you later

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The Holy Grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ~ Banksy

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here. ~ Sue Monk Kidd

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In the last week, I’ve had a revelation, thanks to a little help from a dear friend. I realised I’m spending way too much time on social media, at the expense of my writing.

I started out with the internet and social media about five years ago. At first, I had it all in balance, but somewhere along the line, the balance started to shift.

My friend pointed out that while I’ve been able to keep my blog and newsletter and Facebook and YouTube updated regularly  -‘You’re everywhere’ – I failed to finish and produce my second book, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ as I’d promised readers, last year.

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Self-defence is the knee-jerk. I explained I’ve long adhered to Kristen Lamb’s excellent social media advice for writers. I was under the impression keeping up with the social media gambit was a necessity for all artists these days.

Yet, when I really looked hard at myself and my output, I knew my friend was right. I’ve maintained social media religiously, and let the writing of my sequel to *’The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ slide. *http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

I really do appreciate my subscribers!

While I feel an obligation to continue to provide output, I also have had to admit that if I continue at this rate, I’m not going to produce ‘The Sasori Empire’ this year, either. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. I spend a day at a time writing and producing my blog posts. I spend at least three days, even longer sometimes, writing and collating my fortnightly newsletter.

My friend said, ‘You do all of your social media well. Now imagine if you put more of that time into this book instead of rushing through it.’

Yes. Imagine!

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Between raising my two youngest boys, and being on the committee of two different groups, something’s gotta give. Therefore, I’ve decided to take at least a month’s hiatus from social media (although I may pop onto Facie in the mornings while I have my first cup of tea).

My ultimate dream would be to publish ‘The Sasori Empire’ this winter and make a start on the third book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver series in time for spring in the southern hemisphere. But, to do that will require a lot of work.

Therefore, I’ll be taking a writer’s hiatus for a month, or so.

After I have put nose-to-the-grindstone, I shall return! Hopefully, with the second book well in hand. Sometimes you’ve got to make the hard calls, and this is one of those times.

Thanks, for your patience!

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Talk to you later.

Meantime, keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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A young writer is an explorer. She knows she wants to get somewhere, but she doesn’t even know if the somewhere even exists yet. It is there to be created. In the process of creating it we find out how varied and complex we are. ~ Colum McCann

 

 

 

 

You just have to accept that it takes a phenomenal amount of perseverance. —J. K. Rowling

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*Feel Resistance

Back in 2015, I projected I’d have the second book in my Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, out by Christmas, 2016.

By mid-September of this year, I began to worry. ‘The Sasori Empire’ would not be ready for Christmas. I knew I hadn’t sweated over the story enough, yet. It hadn’t caused me to lose a few pounds in sheer, gruelling, nose-to-the-grindstone, all-hours-of-the-day-and-night hardship, yet.

The story still had a long way to go.

‘The Sasori Empire’ needed to continue to battle through the torture chamber of editing at my kitchen table, and to undergo at least one or two more journeys through “the grinder” of critique.

At first, I felt intense resistance to the thought of admitting defeat, if I delayed publication. Essentially, it meant I’d have to admit I was wrong. The ego resists being diminished like the dickens.

*Step Back, Breathe

Looking back, I realize, my head must have gotten a bit swelled over self-publishing my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ After thirty years of writing fiction and ten years creating this series, it’s not so surprising. In my enthusiasm at becoming a published writer, I imagined my pace of production would somehow magically increase. I’d be pumping out the novels at the rate of one a year, like the greats. But, no.

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http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

 I had to eat a dose of humble pie and admit that the sequel would not be out in time for Christmas. Using the initial artwork supplied by my nephew, Si, I made up a poster to announce the delayed date for publication, on social media.

*The Theory of Randomness

Recently, a friend drew my attention to quotes from The Drunkard’s Walk, a book by Leonard Mlodinow. The wonderful quotes reminded me to look at the bigger picture.

‘There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel and the presence of huge stacks of that novel at the front of thousands of retail outlets (paraphrased). A lot of what happens to us – success in our careers, in our investments, and in our life decisions both major and minor – is as much the result of random factors as the result of skill, preparedness, and hard work.’

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https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2278900

This theory reminded me that there is no need to rush anywhere with my writing and my stories. Hard work alone, will not influence the outcome. I should savour the scenery along the way. It helped me to take the foot off the accelerator.

*Release

Once I decided to let go of this year’s publication date, I felt better. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I knew that in terms of well-being, it was the best thing I could have done. I was ‘back on track’ with my own timing again. Whew.

I settled back into more reasonable writing hours. I began to sleep better. I was “nice mama” again, and able to be pleasant to other shoppers at the supermarket.

It was as simple as giving myself permission to quit pursuing an unrealistic goal. Despite my initial resistance, I embraced a new goal. I can do the work that needs to be done, on my own terms, in my own timing, while enjoying life along the way. Imagine that!

cover artist, Simon Kingi

(Me, with cover artist, SK)

*The “Mission Statement”

One of my writing mentors, Jill Mitchell, is a big fan of “mission statements” for staying on track with our goals.

This is mine:

I always strive to create story in some form. I flow with life as much as possible – therefore, I can change, my goals can change. However, I’m essentially always moving forward with my evolution, learning my craft, becoming a better writer, delivering a better story experience, and as long as I stay true to the creative muse flowing through my fingertips, I’m on track. I am successful.

*Persist!

My goal of putting out the second book in the series will happen, when the time is right. The goal is still there, it’s just farther in the distance. That’s okay.

Leonard Mlodinow posits that random factors act in our lives. ‘That’s why successful people are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.’

This adds weight to the wisdom in the idea of persistence.

I persist. What a great mantra – I’m adding that to the list.

When your goal’s a moving target, the best thing you can do is stay the course! 

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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To write simply is as difficult as to be good. – W. Somerset Maugham

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

 

 

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On Wednesday of this week, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

What am I feeling insecure about? Being stuck in the “aditing” phase with my book.

I tend to get asked this question a lot these days, ‘How’s the new book going?’ My standard answer has been to say that I’m still editing. However, as I was confessing to a friend, at Toastmasters this week, I’ve been going through my manuscript adding more words than I’ve taken out. She coined the perfect word for it, which I immediately purloined, “ad-iting.”

I thought, wow, this is the perfect word for a stage in the writing process which is necessary and also, annoying. The “aditing.”

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The other day, I celebrated having edited the entire manuscript the whole way through five times. Here I am, studiously taking words out of my tome of 60,000 words. Yet, by a process of diligent aditing, I’ve also managed to get the word count on ‘The Sasori Empire’ up to 63,760 words!

How? Answer: because I’m temporarily stuck in the stage of “aditing,” which is strictly speaking the opposite of editing. It is nevertheless, a valid part of the creative process of creating fiction. For any writer, especially those who are just starting out, this can be the most frustrating stage of our job. This is what happens naturally, when each time you go through your prose, you find more and more gaps which need filling, more questions which need answering, or where there needs to be more description, more context, and more depth in general.

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These are the tough yet vital moments in the development process of a good story. This is when you have to examine what’s there and what needs to be there to add texture and context. It’s vital to the enrichment and vibrancy of our fiction.

A few years ago, I entered a short story into a contest held over on LinkedIn. On the forum boards, members of the group wrote in with their feedback on the entries. A lovely old Indian writer, who I was friends with, gave me some very valuable insight on my piece, which I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Nice story, but not enough furniture.”

His wise words made me wake up. I had an epiphany. I realized that in my slavish abeyance to the modern rules of writing fiction, I’d stripped my writing nearly bare. This is the danger today. There are rules for everything! The danger is that we polish a story to the stage where it’s too sanitised. We might get an “A” from the “Was Police,” but no one else wants to read it because the story is also sans voice, sans colour, and sans energy. It’s boring!

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http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I

When I began work on this series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, a decade ago, I set out as we all do, into the fun, easy “Genesis project” stage of writing a book, when you’re gushing the rough copy into words.

Once I had the substance of the overall trilogy, I started editing Book One, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ However, I cut out all the flavour. In my nodding to every literary more, I’d whittled my story down to the bare bones. I ended up having to do some serious aditing, before it ended up feeling like a fully realised story.

Therefore, with the sequel, I didn’t want to leave the bones bare. This is when the aptly named, “aditing” came into play; the vital time spent adding furniture to the rooms of the house. Then, adding the decorations.

The award-winning author and teacher, Kate de Goldi said, ‘I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction, and a palette of Smarties.’

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www.lollyleopold.com

It’s in the visceral detail that brings the scenes alive and makes the characters more real.

I commenced working on Book Two in September.

Within the process of editing, I have had to re-learn how to accommodate prolonged periods of aditing. I’m here to report, it can be done. One must keep a stoic face. And, not worry or think of it as a waste of energy. Allow the words to flow to fill the gaps. You can always take half those words out again later. The important thing is to let them flow. This is that point of manuscript development about which Oscar Wilde famously said, ‘This morning I took out a comma, and this afternoon I put it back again.’

This admittedly requires a lot of patience. But then, what part of writing does not?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. ~ Oscar Wilde

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

It’s Wednesday and time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

What am I feeling insecure about? Speaking in public. Yes, that’s right. I’m a Toastmaster who’s terrified of giving speeches.

A week ago, I was asked to speak to a group of people about my books. My first reaction? To think, ‘I can’t do that!’ Yesterday, I was asked to give a speech at a public venue this coming weekend, and my reaction was to feel, I can’t!

I know it’s just fear. And, I also know it comes from being an introverted writer. Talk about a double whammy! I know there must be other introverted writers out there, and most definitely there are many of the poor, frustrated people who live with them, who want to wrap their head around it a bit more. Here’s my take.

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To be a writer these days, you need to be able to speak in public. For that reason, I started going to Toastmasters nearly a year ago, and yet, I’m still terrified every time I take the stage.

The thing for the introvert is this. We can do everything within our power to overcome this fear of public speaking, yet, the natural inclination is to solitude. We still gain our energy from retreat.

Coming forward takes all my courage. It makes the stage fright seem doubly worse. There’s giving the talk itself and, then, there’s also the overwhelming prospect of a room full of strangers. It feels a little bit like swimming uphill.

‘Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.” ~ By Carol Bainbridge, Gifted Children Expert

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At Toastmasters last week, my “adopted grandfather” Bruce brought along a friend, Bob, who also lives at the same retirement village.

Bob expressed interest in my book. He was one of those sweet old gentlemen you warm to right away: twinkly-eyed, white-haired, white-bearded, who are extremely enthusiastic about literature and authors in general. He said, “It always makes such a difference if you can say you’ve met the author.”

‘What sort of books do you write?’ he asked.

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I tried to explain the genre, (fantasy fiction) and that it was aimed at the 9-12-year-old reading level. But, even as the words of description were leaving my mouth, I regretted them, and wished I’d said something else.

Lesson learned: an introverted writer should have a blurb rehearsed beforehand, a standard phrase that can be repeated in the time it takes to ride an elevator, in other words, have an “elevator pitch” ready. In a public situation, we don’t adlib very well.

In a starry-eyed fashion, Bob suggested I could get Bruce to organize a luncheon at their village, for me to come and talk about my book!

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Despite shrinking inside, I said, “Yes, that’s a good idea.”

“Oh, you’d draw quite a crowd, we love hearing about that sort of thing down at the village,” Bob said, beaming all the while.

Crowds – my least favourite thing. I used to think that I had a phobia of crowds but it’s not that I am rattled by being among a large group of people; it’s that being there depletes my energy. This is how it is being an introvert.

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‘When introverts want to be alone, it is not a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.’

I am fighting the good fight. I’m doing the work. I’m attending the weekly Toastmasters meetings and I’m somehow inexplicably surviving each speech I give. Yet, the thought of speaking in public this weekend is giving me palpitations!

Are you an introvert writer? How do you handle the stage fright? I need tips!

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it–like a secret vice!The artist knows he must be alone to create: the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray.’ Anne Morrow Lindberg

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

“I’m late. Again. Yesterday, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

Can there be any more hideous experience than talking about your own book in conversation?

I should know by now, not to get drawn in by that most delicious and tempting of all questions.

Yet, my brother, Al, asked me, ‘how’s your book going?’ and I succumbed.

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I told my brother, ‘The Sasori Empire’ was based on mythology, with alternate versions of Maori legends and Japanese mythology.

To me, the world I’ve created through the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series is perfectly logical.

Yet, it’s only when I try to describe the plot to other people that I seem to come unstuck.

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I heard myself telling my brother, Al, in avid detail, as you do when you’re a writer, all about ‘The Sasori Empire.’ I said, it’s set on the planet Chiron (an actual recently discovered planet in our solar system). The setting though is an alter-earth. As other authors have done, I swapped out the first letters of countries to make them recognizable and yet also, ‘somewhere else.’

Al was blinking at me owlishly.

Yet, we writers, when asked about our babies, cannot stop talking even when our listener’s eyes have glazed over.

I told Al that book two mostly moves between the Lost Island, set off-shore from the west coast of an alternate New Zealand, and the Land of Fire and Ice which is set in an alternate imagining of Japan.

Al may have started snoring at this point.

About mythology, the famous writer, Joseph Campbell said, ‘The standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation—initiation—return: which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth.’

I explained to my brother, that in these books I explore the traditional heroic arc, through the medium of fantasy and insect shape-shifters. Only in neither book two, nor its companion, book two: part two, do the hero or his heroic band get to “return.”

That was it. My brother wasn’t even looking in my direction anymore. I knew we’d officially reached his limit. At that point, I petered out.

I read somewhere recently, if we feel the urge to share what our book’s about with others, we should lock the urge up and throw away the key.

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Sharing only seems to water the impact down. Yes, I know we have to be able to précis the book to compose the synopsis, blurb, and elevator pitch, all the way down to the logline. But that’s different, that’s the business side. Even writing a speech about your book is acceptable. But talking about the story with people in regular old conversation, I find, goes nowhere fast. It never works.

Why is that?

The fact is, no one, not even one’s own sibling, wants to hear an author “selling their own book.” Especially at length!

How do I stop myself from “sharing” again? Have you ever had a hideous experience of talking about your own book?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Lord, make my words sweet and reasonable; some day I may have to eat them.~ Paddy Ashdown

‘The word ‘Legend’ comes from Latin legenda, ‘things to be read’. Originally, legends were the hand-written biographies of saints and martyrs, which were read daily, at MATINS, and after dinner at monastic refectories. In these accounts, such a love for exaggeration, the fantastic and wonderful predominated that the word, legend, came to signify a traditional story, a fable, or myth.’ ~ Brewers Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

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I’m a day late for posting with my fellow IWSG’ers, so please accept my apologies!

Wednesday (*cough, Thursday) is time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

 

I haven’t been as uncomfortable as this in a long time. A friend who also happens to be one of the modern authors I most admire, will soon be reading my debut novel. I posted him a copy three days ago.

Now, the wait….

I’m suddenly very aware that it’s one thing to write a novel in the solitude of your room. It’s another to share it with your first critique partner or beta reader or editor. And then it’s a giant bound into a glaring stratosphere, to show your work to one of your writing heroes. That’s what I’m doing right now. I’m so uncomfortable it’s a nightmare.

*mental note: this must be what ants-in-the-pants feel like.

The writer I’m talking about is PJ Reece, filmmaker, traveller and author of the excellent Story Structure to Die For, and Story Structure Expedition among many others.

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I first met PJ online, about three or four years ago, when he commented on a post published over on the excellent blog, The Write Practice.

Later on, PJ wrote a guest post for The Write Practice, on his writing theory of 2-Stories separated by a Story Heart.’

He explores the nature of writing fiction in a way that truly reflects the essence of why we’re here on this planet, and why we love fiction, on his blog, The Meaning of Life. PJ lights the way for other writers by his sheer willingness to dive deep into the real essence of himself. Then, he articulates how to bring reality into our fiction, and the transformations needed of our characters, relating the experience like a poet.

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I think to do what he does, one has to have a very important trait and it’s a trait I seek to cultivate in myself. Pluck!

You see, last year, I self-published my debut novel. After weeks of procrastinating, I mustered up enough courage to ask PJ Reece to read it. However, I wasn’t sure if he would read ‘tween reading level.

PJ replied, ‘A good story is a good story no matter what the reading level.’

I was encouraged. However, truth be told, I chickened out and never sent it to him. Then he remembered a couple of weeks ago, and well, long story short, a copy of my debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ is en route to Canada as we speak.

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I see a lot of pluck in all of PJ Reece’s work which is why I admire it so much. Now, I’m waiting for him to read my (first ever) novel, and I think ‘all my pluck has got up and went,’ as my father would say.

With 35 years of writing fiction under my belt so far, I’m no stranger to the process of submitting stories. I’ve sent my work out more times than I can remember. Yet, none of those times have felt like this feeling of squirming-on-the-hook.

Will PJ read the whole book, I wonder, or horror of horrors, will he put the book down and walk away?

Some submissions really feel like putting your heart on the line, don’t they? How do you stay on an even keel? Any suggestions for how to handle stress are welcome.

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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At present, IWSG are taking part in the ‘A to Z Challenge.’ Due to my time constraints, unfortunately,  I could not participate.

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Kate de Goldi – ‘I don’t care about the classifications of what constitutes children’s literature. I want to write articulate, textural, demanding,’ she said. ‘I think current stories are lacking in complex structure and nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction, and a palette of Smarties.’

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The concept of the internet being “the wild, wild west,” as I have mentioned in previous posts, still holds true. Have you heard of the “Scamazon” posts in circulation on the net at the moment? There is tell of bloggers sharing tactics for how to scam the Kindle Unlimited system.

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A lot of us felt encouraged to join up with the KDP select program. I did. The numbers are enticing.

In the latest Kindle Direct newsletter, the “team” had this to say:

The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $14 million. February’s KDP Select Global will be paid out under Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v2.0 as previously announced (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=957). We will again award “KDP Select All-Stars” for February to the most-read authors and most-read titles in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. For more information on All-Stars, you can go here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2

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They’re not the only ones, some bloggers support this view. As Chris McMullen said recently on his blog, ‘The KENP pages read rate rose up to $0.00479 per page in February, 2016 up from $0.00411 per page in January, 2016.’

Yet, Amazon is still taking a hit at present in social media forums. Kindle Unlimited was begun rather quickly, and then along the way, ‘Amazon changed the way it pays authors enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon changed that payment method from “per borrow” to “pages read.” Not pages written, mind you – but how many pages a reader actually reads.’ ~ Selena Kitt

This is where the real problems began. As the good old highway robbers and bandits found a way to scam the “pages read” system. Then Amazon jumped to try and staunch the blood loss.

The Internet has been buzzing lately with news relating to the placement of our Table of Contents. Specifically, Amazon is now requesting that we place it at the beginning, not the end of our ebooks. ~ Nicholas C. Rossis

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Author, David Gaughran blogged that ‘Amazon is claiming that having a TOC in the end-matter instead of the front-matter is a breach of the (ever-changing, 100+ pages) Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF).’ Gaughran wrote of knowing authors ‘who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m newly published and I found myself a bit intimidated. I felt the need to circle the wagons. Luckily, my book doesn’t have a table of contents. I had only joined up with KDP Select last month, however I decided the best thing for me was to take my book off the KDP Select shelf, at least for the time being. It felt safer to me in these uncertain times to have my debut release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ available on Kindle Direct only. One platform. One format. No possibility of scammers doing weird stuff.

I went to KDP Select and I couldn’t figure out how to quit the program. Immediately, I went to Amazon via “contact us” and voiced my concerns.

They replied the next day. This is what some people may not know. It came as a surprise to me to find that when I joined the KDP Select program, a box for “automatic renewal” had been ticked. So, if I had not taken these steps to find out the details of the fine print, then my book could have stayed on the program indefinitely.

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Perhaps you were smart enough to figure out you needed to uncheck the box. However what a lot of authors may not know is that you can follow the steps to “uncheck the box,” yet there is only a short three day period at the end of each month in which your book rolls off the program. If you haven’t unchecked the box by then, your book automatically gets renewed again under KDP Select for another month.

Here is the step-by-step advice the response team gave me for how to KDP “De-Select:”

Go to your Bookshelf and click on the ellipsis button (“…”) under the Book Actions menu next to your book, then select “KDP Select Info.”

Then, click “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” and uncheck the box next to “Automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.”

Customers who have already borrowed your book can still read it until it’s finished, returned, or their Kindle Unlimited subscription expires. As a result, you may see new Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read appear in your reports until then. 

That’s it. You’re out.

Has the “Scamazon” situation with TOC effected you? Are you with KDP Select?

Self-portrait, pencil sketch, age 25

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Sometimes we stare in wonder at your multiplying glories, basking in the power you’ve given us. Other times we regard you with alien horror, and we whisper to one another, I think they make Kindles out of little dead girls. We know you do amazing things. And we’re also really worried about the things you might do. ~ Chuck Wendig

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My top tip for bringing fiction alive is to use Onomatopoeia. This is the Greek term for ‘word-making.’ When we use it in our fiction it means using a word that appears to suggest the qualities of the sound, for instance, murmur, cuckoo and tingle.

I find I especially use Onomatopoeia when zooming in on a scene.

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A critique partner, author, Maria Cisneros-Toth will sometimes say that we need to slow scenes down. She encouraged me three or four times during the writing of ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ to ‘slow down time.’ Her point was that the story needed a change of pace – it becomes boring with everything flowing at the same rhythm.

Maria would sometimes point out where there was an interesting moment in the story that I had rushed over.

She’d say, ‘Tease this scene out. Put us there with you. Really show us what’s happening in minute detail. Give us what he sees, smells and hears.’

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Utilising all the senses is a great way of slowly panning the situation.

Showing every detail is also a great challenge and it tests our resources as writers.

I’ve heard this advice given elsewhere since as well, where the passage of time is concerned in fiction. The advice was ‘to speed time up and slow it down.’ If you were to use the analogy of a camera on a movie set.

The camera pans out and zooms in. That’s how you keep things interesting.

I have to admit, that the minute-by-minute scenes are now my favourite parts of the book. Maria was right. We do need to bring the focus right in on the details sometimes.

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For me, being an auditory person, my strongest sense is sound, so I tend to use a lot of sound in my writing. When it comes to ‘teasing out a scene’ and adding all those important elements, I think about how I hear it, first.

For instance, there’s a pivotal scene I’ve been working on in ‘The Sasori Empire,’ where the ancient talisman, the Or’in, is tested for its authenticity. On the wooden pedestal, the talisman starts to move by itself. I use the vibrating sound to emphasize the drama of the moment.

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‘The Or’in gradually rolled back-and-forth in a hypnotic motion in the wooden hollow. An eerie rock-rock sound grew louder and more insistent in the interior of the temple, and suddenly the Or’in spilled off the edge of the pedestal and crashed to the floor with a clink, clink.’

As long as we use this device where it’s needed, hopefully it will come across as a natural moment in the story. A subtle evolution.

Janice Hardy, from Fiction University, says, ‘Onomatopoeia is a device best used sparingly, because it packs a wallop. Too much of it will start to feel like a comic book, so drop it in when the scene needs that extra POW.’

Growing up, the single most influential series I read was definitely the Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson. Tove’s deft hand with words and the precision of her use of Onomatopoeia are still a lesson to me today on how to include sound naturally.

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One spring morning at four o’clock the first cuckoo arrived in the valley of the Moomins. He perched on the blue roof of the Moominhouse and cuckooed eight times – rather hoarsely to be sure, for it was still a bit early in spring. ~ Finn Family Moomintroll

This is the opening paragraph of chapter one. Essentially, nothing has happened. There is no tension, nor dramatic question, and yet the story is already alive in our imaginations. We’re expectant, we’re hopeful. We find ourselves perking up, just as the winter countryside depicted in the first scene is perking up. We wonder what’s going to happen next. Why? Nothing at all has transpired in this first paragraph apart from a bird singing.

Jansson’s skilful weaving of sound naturally into the poetry of her words brings a whole world bursting to life. This one paragraph is like a master class on setting scene. Genius. Poetry. Great fiction.

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Yet, not everyone is a fan of using these techniques. In a post entitled, ‘Zip! Crash! Bang! Using Onomatopoeia,’ Janice Hardy explained why some readers dislike sound in text. ‘They find them awkward, or distracting, detracting from a scene instead of enhancing it, or feel they’re too comic book and not literary enough perhaps or they seem like a cheap trick.’

I can understand why readers would feel this way. Yet, sometimes, it really is the most effective way of expressing the moment. As Hardy pointed out, in the aforementioned blog post, with the difference between ‘Ssh!’ and saying one character had shushed another, the two things are not the same.

One expresses the moment, the other doesn’t. The latter falls flat. It fails to engage us.

This is the moment we’ve lost the reader back to their digital devices, YouTube and the television. This is why it is more important than ever to find ways to bring our fiction alive!

Which is your predominant sense? How do you use it to bring your fiction alive?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Any book that helps a child to form the habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. ~ Maya Angelou