Thursday, July 25, 2013

Will My Book Get Published?

I can't tell you how many times in the last five years I have written these exact words into Google's search line.
Will my book get published? As if Google knew anything about the books I'd been working on.
But still, every now and again, I type in those words just to see if I get the answer I am looking for. What I want to hear is, "Yes. After all your hard work your book WILL get published."
Well here it is. If you're asking the same question, "Will my book get published?" The answer is yes.
Really! Yes.
How can I be so sure? Two words: Self Publishing.
I know, you're shaking your head at the computer screen as if self publishing were something shameful. Something far beneath you. You're looking for a "real" publisher.
Well, let me tell you something. I know writers with contracts with so called "real" publishers and they are self publishing their next books.
Why? There are different reasons for different writers. Sometimes the genre doesn't quite fit the publisher that picked up the book.  Or the writer feels the publisher has set the price of the book too high. Or maybe the writer just doesn't want to share their profits with a publisher.
Add to that the fact that most writers, no matter who publishes them, do a lot of their own marketing. The writers feel like they're in control of the marketing anyway so why not get the full profit?
I'm not saying which one is the better way to go. I'm still going to go through the painful querying process after I finish my next book, but isn't it liberating to know that one way or another you can get your book published?
And if you do end up self publishing, what's the worst that could happen? You pay for an editor, pay for the book cover, and maybe spend some money on marketing and then your book doesn't sell?
So you're out a couple bucks in the name of securing your future. Hell, I still owe money on my completely useless Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. I'm at home looking after two kids, not two farm animals. Why'd I spend all that money? Because my Dad said I had to spend money to make money.
And what's the best case scenario? Your book catches on, Oprah's calling, but you can't get to the phone because you are wading through piles and piles of cash. (Daydreaming is fun.)
Here's what I think will happen.
Armed with the knowledge that you will get your book published you'll really start working on it. The thought of friends and family reading this book with scare the crap out of you and you'll crank out a book that is the absolute best you can do. You'll publish it and maybe get a little bit of money, but you will have learned a ton.
You'll use that knowledge to write your next book. A better book! And so on and so forth.
You might not get that best seller, but you'll be closer than you were back in the days when you couldn't bring yourself to waste time writing without the certain knowledge that you'd get published.
So here it is. I'm giving it to you. If you write it. It will get published.
Whew, what a relief! Now you can go back to Google and start typing things like, "How can I lose ten pounds in three days?" Or maybe that's just me?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo Wordcount Update

As you may know I'm signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo which means I am trying to write 50,000 words this month. I thought you might be interested in how I'm doing so far.
The truth is, it's not looking so good!
Yesterday morning I was at 21,900 words, not too shabby.  I should have been at 27,421 words, but I was close enough.
Then something terrible happened. I got confused. (It happens more than I'd like to admit.) The time line was giving me trouble. The character descriptions were changing. First one character had long hair and then she had short hair.  It was maddening.
Now these are all things that can be fixed in editing, but because I'm kind of OCD about things, I couldn't let them go.
I printed out my entire "novel" (MISTAKE) and read all 21,900 words. I won't waste your time here explaining how terrible I thought the entire thing was. If you write, you know what I'm talking about. I did resist the urge to delete the entire thing and managed to do away with exactly 3,467 miserable words.
I've been doing the math since yesterday. Different equations that all have to add up to 50,000 by July 31st. I could write 2,255 words everyday for the next 14 days, but weekends can be so hectic. Maybe I should write 3,158 words for the ten weekdays that I have left? Save the weekends for fun stuff like BBQ's and beers.
Either way it's a heck of a lot of writing, especially considering that I still haven't worked out all the details of my plot.
Like I said, it's not going well.
I guess I'd better stop procrastinating and get to work.
Only 31,576 more words to go and only 14 days to do it. Now if only I could find a way to get the kids into a camp next week! Hmmm.....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Forget Everything you Know about Writing

I know, I know, I just told you to educate yourself about how to write a good book. Don't hate me before you've read what I have to say.
First of all, if you've read books about how to write your head is probably filled with a lot of fantastic information. Wonderful.
The problem here, for some of us, is that all of that information can be overwhelming.
It can be damn near terrifying to think of all the things that need to go into your book. Where do you even begin?

Well, if the books you read were similar to the ones I read they told you to start with an outline.
You get the basic idea for your novel and then shove that into a framework, aka, your plot. To do this you'll need to figure out the inciting incident, the midpoint mirror, the call to action, antagonist's motivation, back story and the list goes on and on. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about here, I'll post more about that later)
 So, I did as I was told. Or at least tried to do it.  Months went by and no matter how I approached it,  I couldn't plot out the entire story. And worst of all, I hadn't written a single word! I didn't have a plot. I didn't have an outline. And I wasn't getting any closer to having a novel.
Then I forgot what I'd read in all of those books and just started writing. Yay! Freedom. Back to doing what I wanted to do in the first place.
I didn't think about the protagonist's journey, or the introduction to normal, I just wrote.
Now I'm 8,000 words in and I still do not completely understand why my antagonist is being so mean to my protagonist. Gasp!! Are you horrified?
The truth is, I wish I could have plotted it all out into a neat little stack of note cards. It would certainly have made it easier to write and, oh SO much less work in the editing process.
But my brain just doesn't work like that. I had to write about the characters to get to know them. And how could I possible know what they were going to do in the story until I knew them a little better.
The bottom line is that eventually you're just going to have to put the bit in your mouth and pull the cart up the hill. Yes, in this analogy you are the horse and your book is the cart.
Will you still have to take the time to plot out your novel? Yes. Will all those fancy things you learned in the books have to be put into your novel? Yes.
Is it going to be a lot of work? Yes. But the important thing is to write it. Just put those words on the page and you can work on the details later.
But don't stop reading those how to books! You'll definitely want to have all that information for your vast amount of rewriting:)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books on Writing

Since I've been babbling about books on writing I thought I'd give you a few of the books in my library.  If there are any that are missing from my list that I should read please let me know.

On Writing: A memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
The First 50 Pages by Donald Maass
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Writing the Breakout Novel (don't forget the workbook) by Donald Maass
Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz
Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole
Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The first FIVE are really required reading. And once you've finished your first draft check out Margie Lawson's EDITs Class. You will not regret the money you spend there!
Good luck and happy reading...and writing.
E.L Watts

Writing 101

I started "seriously" writing back in 2010 when I signed up for my first NanoWriMo. I wrote an entire novel in a month. Tears streamed down my face as I wrote the final scene. Tissue in hand I typed "The End" and felt the pride only a novelist can feel.
Then I left it alone for a few months, as I was supposed to do, and when I finally got around to reading the thing it was... TERRIBLE!
Let's not even talk about the writing itself. It was bad, but it was something I could fix.
The story was a disaster. The characters were one dimensional, the protagonist wasn't likable, and the ending, that I thought was so touching, made absolutely no sense.
What went wrong?  I'd read enough fiction to know how it was supposed to go. Why couldn't I just write it out the way it was in my head?
Now, I probably could have tidied it up a bit and self published it. I might even have made some money on it, but something was clearly wrong with it.
And since I'm a quitter by nature I gave up on it. I did some photography, thought about selling some jewelry and then, as usual, came back to writing.
But this time I did it differently. Instead of writing, I read. I picked up anything I could get my hands on about how to write a salable book.
I spent last year learning about the inciting incident, the three act structure, the call to action, the midpoint mirror, the character arc, and so much more it made my head hurt.
But now that I'm writing again, I actually have an idea exactly where I messed up the first time. I know what was missing and more importantly I know how to fix it.
Am I suggesting you stop writing so you can get an education? No. Keep writing, but read too. Read everything you can get your paws on.
You're going to be busy, REALLY busy, but writing well takes work.
Believe me, I miss my nights in front of the tv, but I'm positive that, this time, I can write a book I'll be proud of. And if you listen to my advice, I'm pretty sure you can do the same.

Hopefully this post has motivated you.  Maybe you've ordered some books on Amazon about writing? If so, I want to say Bravo!
And I want to apologize because my next post is really going to piss you off. The title will be something like..."Forget everything you know":)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sign up for Summer Camp

Just to make my life a little more challenging I've decided to sign up for Camp Nanowrimo. If you're not familiar with the website for National Novel Writing Month you should be. The original novel writing month is in November, but just to give us the kick in the pants we need they give us Camp Nanowrimo in July.
The idea is to write 50,000 words in the month of July. Will you be writing 50,000 amazing, beautiful, money making words? Probably not. But you'll be 50,000 words closer to a finished novel than you were last month!
I'm not even saying I'm going to write the full 50,000, although I'm going to try.
 I am a stay at home mom of two kids, and pack leader to four dogs so summer is not exactly full of free time.
It gets so bad that I recently outlawed the use of the word "mom" between the hours of 6:00am and 10:00am. It's just too damn early!
And even if the kids are being good the dogs will drive me insane.
We have a little bell hanging on the back door that the little pups hit with their paws when they have to make a pee pee. Jingle, Jingle. Adorable, right? Well, imagine being in the middle of (what you hope is) an intense scene and jingle, jingle.
"I'm writing." You say. But the jingling only gets more intense. JINGLE, JINGLE, JINGLE...
Alright already. You get up, open that back door and one, two, three, four dogs SLOWLY walk outside onto the concrete patio. They turn and stare at you. You begin to close the door and one by one the little monsters amble back through the door and into the house.
False alarm. You sit back down to write...jingle, jingle.
Anyway, my point is, nobody really has time for this writing gig. You just have to eek out the time and if you're lucky you'll have a goal to push you along. In comes Camp Nanowrimo. So sign up. Ban the use of the word "mom" completely if you have to, but get that writing time in!
I'll keep you posted about how I'm doing. Let me know how you're doing!

 It's not too late. Right now it's 12:25pm on July 1st, and I haven't written word one of my novel yet either.