A small drop in a big bucket

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For anyone who has self-published a book, you will most likely agree the marketing is the hardest part of the process. Writing, for me, is a natural routine. I can spend hours in a fugue-like state typing words that form cohesive sentences, but when I am faced with the daunting task of putting myself out there, the wheels fall off the bus and I struggle to put together a simple string of words that do my stories justice.

Thankfully, I have learned a very valuable lesson along the way. Talk to people about your book. Talk to anyone who will listen and who shows interest in your story. I am blessed to work in the hospitality industry, so I encounter a myriad number of people who stay at the lodge each season. I know them all by name, I know all their children by name, but I am not afforded the luxury of knowing what they do for a living, nor do I know the broad scope of contacts they may have in their lives.

Last summer, in a random conversation, I talked about my first book with a woman who knew I was trying to find an agent, and she knew about my desire to become traditionally published. Unbeknownst to me, the table behind me was listening intently to that conversation and was soon asking questions about the story and expressing a desire to read the book. They both read it and my life as an author had new life breathed into it.

Neil has since become my mentor, and the reason I now have three books for sale on Amazon. My stepdaughter, Abby, boarded the train of my crusade and used her contacts to get my book into the Chapters/Indigo store in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Knowing my book was now live in that system, yet another guest at the lodge used her contact to get my first book into the Chapters/Indigo store at huge location in Toronto. Having overheard the conversations about my books during her stay at the lodge during the same week, a copy of my first book was purchased and is now in the hands of the marketing manager at Penguin Random House in Toronto. And, that same fateful week in August brought me together with a professional graphic designer who is going to update my website and bring my SEO to a level that will increase hits to my website.

I can’t stress this enough. Talk to people about your book. Talk to anyone who will listen and who shows interest in your story. I now have a small army of people using their gifts to help me sell mine. And having six copies of my first book in two separate locations of a large chain of bookstores is truly a small drop in a big bucket, but I am that small drop in that big bucket, and that is a feeling I will cherish.

I need to write

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When I turned the calendar page from May to June, I knew the reality of keeping a solid writing practice would be difficult, but I did not know it would become essentially non-existent. Prior to June, I had been able to enjoy many hours at home while only working part time at my hospitality job, but once the busy season started, I began to struggle with balancing my work / home life and my creativity bypassed the back seat and it took refuge in the trunk.

As much as I want to add more words to book four in The Relative Series, Root Cellar is living up to its title and is presenting itself as a cold and inhospitable environment. The winter and early spring afforded me the time to listen to the voices and let them tell their stories, but the summer is a completely different animal. The voices are gone, and I am struggling to hear anything beyond the voices I hear during my hours at work. I need to write.

This blog post is the first creative string of words I have been able to put together since the lodge opened. I have been able to plug away with the final edit of Dark Room before it is available on August 21st, but that is not the productive vibe I need to continue the series and keep the characters fresh in my mind.

It is time to set a writing schedule, and stick to it. These books are not going to write themselves!!

Onwards and upwards

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For those of you who have been following this blog, you will not be shocked by the fact that I am going to talk about writing, again. My first book, The Waking Hours, although self-published, has been doing well compared to the abysmal report I read on Google about anticipated sales. If their collected data is correct, and self-published books only average 250 book sales in the first year, I will be doing backflips after posting this latest entry. I am just shy of 500 book sales in ten weeks and that makes my heart happy.

The road to get to that number has come with its own set of challenges. Writing, editing, and marketing are all individual career paths for a reason – it is extremely difficult to perform all three tasks at the same time, and I have been feeling the stress of successfully acting out those three functions simultaneously, but I am still keeping my head above water, for now.

I have certainly obtained a great deal of knowledge and some new skills along the way, and in the grand scheme of things, I have discovered that I do not mind doing interviews. Initially, this was an enormous shock to my system, but the more I thought about how passionate I am about writing, and sharing the stories I have created, the more it made sense that I would want to share my journey with others and have those people ask questions about my process.

Last night, I did a Zoom call with my local library along with a handful of guests and, for the first time in my life, I was not nervous about public speaking. Sure, the participants were not directly in front of me, but I was answering questions about something that has become an extension of me. Although I had done a few trial runs through the questions and voiced my responses to the squirrels on my front lawn, my responses during the Q&A session sounded nothing like what I had rehearsed, but were, in fact, more linear to the truth in my head.

I can only hope I am afforded more opportunities to talk about my writing in a public forum. I am finally comfortable in my writer’s skin, and I have faith that my journey will continue onwards and upwards.

I have a book on Amazon!

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Once upon a time, I had the dreamy notion I wanted to write a book. Twenty years ago, I had a great idea for a story that was unique, and I knew I wanted to write it. I stumbled through three chapters and then the idea was shelved for well over a decade.

A few years ago, I pulled that file out of the archives of my computer, and my brain, and began writing again. I certainly hit a few bumps along the way, but through dedication, and accepting the fact I was hearing the voices again, I finished it.

Today, I have the pleasure of telling you my book is for sale on Amazon. Typing that previous sentence takes it from surreal to real. Below is the link to Amazon if you want to check it out. I am going to excuse myself now and rock back and forth in the fetal position with a glass of champagne!

The Waking Hours

Pulling the trigger

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There are many days I feel like a child who is distracted by shiny things. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had a great chat with my friend, and mentor, Neil. He has been instrumental in keeping me motivated and inspired to follow this crazy journey of writing novels. I knew I had a monumental day ahead, as the 238 pages of my first novel needed to be screened for one final edit before I self-publish on January 11th. But during my conversation with Neil about book number three, my mind took the next exit into creativity and the editing sat on the side of the road with a flat tire.

He had given me a few tasks, and asked that they be hand-written. My pen could not keep up with the ideas my brain was sending. I quickly realized how long it had been since I had actually written anything with a pen, and I struggled to remember how to hold the pen properly. After a few trial runs, it all came flooding back.

Since I spent my Monday afternoon being an author, I had to spend all of today being an editor. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 am and spent nine consecutive, grueling hours going through my first novel with a fine-toothed comb. By mid-afternoon, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. BUT, The Waking Hours has been submitted to Amazon for approval and I am now drinking wine, and shitting my pants. They really should make pills for this!

Oh, how the words have flowed

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Back in July, my world changed for the better. I know that may seem unbelievable since 2020 has been so devastating in so many ways, but a chance conversation overheard by a keen set of ears has changed the trajectory of my belief in my writing and its potential in the fiction market.

That keen set of ears has since become my mentor, and my friend. We scheduled weekly Zoom meetings so he could get updates on the progress of my writing in book number two, and he held me accountable to a proper schedule I may not have kept otherwise. We had agreed on the date of November 30th as the day I would finish the book. As much as I wanted to hold up my end of the agreement, my characters chose to have a temper tantrum and November 30th came and went with no end in sight for my story. I could hear the quote by Douglas Adams in my head – “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”

I was determined to finish my second novel and promised my friend the book would be done by December 5th. My characters must have been motivated by my uncompromising determination and the words began to flow again. On the day the story was meant to be finished, I wrote 5,700 words between the hours of 11:00 am and 6:00 pm, an average of 815 words an hour! My reward for being a conduit for the voices in my head was being able to write the two words authors love – THE END.

After giving my brain a much-needed rest, I am now in the editing phase, which is also known as the pull-your-hair-out phase. My goal is to have book number two sent to Beta readers to bring them some holiday serial-killing cheer, and to have book number one ready to be introduced to the Amazon world on January 11th. I am hoping Santa will fill my stocking with a heaping dose of courage (and some new underwear). Wish me luck!!

The writing bug is back

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I hope you are all well and staying safe. I have not posted here as often as I would like, but for good reason. I am finally continuing the adventure of writing my second book.

My creativity from March to July was dismal, at best. I could not put together a string of words that gave me any sort of joy. My work in progress collected dust and my characters had self-isolated to the extent I feared they had taken reclusiveness to an award-winning level and would never return. I was devoid of ideas and was deeply saddened by the reality my prolific brain had atrophied.

But a series of chance discussions in August sparked my imagination and charged new life into the decaying cells in my brain. One by one, the neurons began to fire, and the ideas began to flow. The novel that had sat in solemn darkness with only 18,000 words is currently over 31,000 words in a span of two weeks, and the characters are now tripping over themselves to add their stories to the chapters of the adventure I am writing. This is a writer’s dream.

The inspirational voice that sounded was unexpected, but quickly presented ideas that got me excited. The stagnant pool in my head is now churning with ideas. I find myself at my laptop, writing for hours at a time and then having to physically readjust to the life I am living outside of the life I am creating in my story.

This is my bliss. This is the elusive happiness I struggled to find for four months before the muse came back. This is what being a writer is all about and I cannot tell you how excited I am to finish book number two and continue to write the following three in the series.

 

 

Getting my characters out of self-isolation

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The voices in my head, the ones I admit I listen to on a regular basis, have been annoyingly silent over the past few months. Those tentative whispers that regularly woke me from sleep at three in the morning have taken self-isolation to a whole new level and have remained reticent since the Covid pandemic took the world by storm. I am not ashamed to admit I miss the sleepless nights. I long for the wee hours when I can wake up with new ideas for my book and the characters trip over each other to take a prominent position to tell their stories.

I have never been one to write an outline for any story I am creating. I am merely the vehicle for my characters to drive in any direction they choose. My responsibility is to follow the rules of the writing road to keep them from careening over a cliff or crashing into a cement barrier. It sounds much easier than it is if I am being honest.

I have always been a big fan of fiction that is character driven. Sure, it’s nice to read stories that are wonderfully descriptive but, if I cannot find endearing qualities in the characters, I tend to lose interest if I am unable to find a connection to the personalities who are telling their stories. I had developed a wonderful rapport with my new characters and am thrilled they felt comfortable enough to share their narrative with me.

But the time has come to coax them out of hiding. I am going to bait the trap. I am going to lure them out of their cushy recesses and put them back to work. They have a story to tell and my fingers are hovering over the keyboard, ready to make some sense of what they are telling me. I went back to my job after a government regulated hiatus. It is time for them to do the same.

Micro-fiction and getting the writing bug back

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When I find myself wordless and lacking the drive to write, I go back and read through some of my past blog posts. Once I choose one, the suggested posts underneath take me on a journey into my own writing. There are not many things that will make me pat myself on the back but my writing has the ability to make me extremely proud of some of the things that have come from the depths of my imagination.

I used to participate in several micro-fiction competitions. Writers would be given a photograph or a phrase and we were left to our own devices to see where our stories would go. Mine, more often than not, led to the macabre but that is the genre where I feel most comfortable, the creative avenue where the words lead me and not the other way around. Click here to read one of those posts.

Not only did I feel the cylinders slowly coming back to life, I could almost smell the gas as it turned into power. The engine sputtered slightly but eventually roared back to life. I felt excited. I felt hungry for the high that writing gives me and then I felt inspired to put all of those micro-fiction pieces together and organize something resembling a chapbook.

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For now, this collection of fiction will serve as my inspiration. Those pieces of make-believe will remind me that I have the ability to weave a yarn that is entertaining, if not sometimes disturbing. Maybe, one day, I will want to publish those stories or perhaps they will remain on the pages of my blog. Regardless, they have rekindled the writing flame and it’s time to restore the lines of communication to the characters in book number two.