Writing

Beta Readers, please tell me the truth. I can handle it…maybe?

I gave out my manuscript to the 6 wonderful people who agreed to read it today. They got it a full week earlier than planned. Which means it didn’t get edited for a full week. Yikes!

I warned them of the fact that my manuscript professionally edited yet. (It is in the process of that.) I’m asking them to look past the issues and focus the story. Specifically, plot and character. I am also giving them a worksheet to complete afterwards. I feel better about giving them the worksheet now that we have been given an extra week off.

If you aren’t sure what I am talking about, let me explain. A beta reader is a person you trust to read your book before publishing to give you feedback. Some people have them act as editors too. I am lucky enough to work with people who love to read and volunteered to do this. It helps that they are all educators and read young adult literature regularly.

Just like when I sent it off to the editor though, I stayed up all night convinced that my writing was horrible and they all would get 5 pages in and tell me they have read better stuff from freshman. Which would hurt?

Yesterday, Kris and I spent the morning printing and “binding” the manuscripts. We printed them double sided and tied them together with twine left over from our wedding. We had considered purchasing a spiral binder from Amazon, but this was cheaper.

On the last copy, the toner in our printer ran out. I had to send the last 50 pages and the beta reader worksheet to Staples to finishing printing. 7 bucks, an 2 ice cream blizzards and a trip to town later, we had 6 complete manuscripts and a bit of a mess.

The beta worksheet I stole from a post on The Writing Cooperative called 15 Questions to Send Beta/First Readers. I modified it a little, taking it down to 11 questions. If you would like a copy, please let me know!

It was very cool seeing 6 of my manuscripts stacked together. It is all becoming very real. It terrified me this morning to hand over my book to these unfortunate souls who agreed to read this mess.

They were all fantastic and seemed excited to get them. Kris is waiting for the edited copy to read it. We have also agreed we won’t be in the same room when he reads it. For our marriages sake.

Writing

Oh Marketing, I don’t understand you.

Marketing. 

In college, I heard people tell me they were taking marketing classes, and I did not understand what that meant. I assumed that it was an easy class as it was a business major who usually was telling me this. 

Now I know, not an easy class. 

I’ve read several books on marketing, listened to some podcasts and watched some YouTube videos. 

I still have no idea what I am doing. 

I know that if I want to be successful; I need a marketing plan, but everything I watch is so contradictory. One person says to blog, another person says don’t waste your time. Another person says Amazon is the only way to go. Another person claims Amazon is the worst. 

I am feeling so overwhelmed I want to scream. 

How, as a new author, am I supposed to figure this out? I don’t want to invest more money than I have to. I also understand that I will need to put some money towards marketing. I’ve started looking into some companies that can do this for me. Some of their prices seem too good to be true, and others are more expensive than editing. 

I just want to sell my book, make a little money, and feel like I accomplished at least one of my lifelong dreams. 

Right now, that seems too far away to be achievable. 

Book is still being edited. The world is on lockdown because of a virus. It is snowing again. 

Marketing. Not a fan.

Writing

Off to see the Editor!

I haven’t been sleeping well. 


I think it is a mix of worry, the full moon, three animals who insist on snuggling with mom and the bed just not being comfortable. 


I should be thrilled right now. I have hired an editor, something that I have never done. I have also completed my developmental edits and sent the full manuscript to the editor to be torn apart. 


I know that there will are glaring issues and hope that she destroys my work. In a good way. 


Like most writers, I am probably a little too sensitive about my writing. My husband would be the first to tell you I don’t have a thick skin when people critique my writing. It’s weird, but because it will be a stranger telling me, the feedback will be better than my husband telling me anything about my writing. No offense, honey! 


But I keep getting this sinking feeling that the editor will send the manuscript back in a few days, apologize and say she can’t do anything with this mess. 


The only thing I can do is write for the next few weeks. I plan on diving into a new story and forgetting about the old one.

Outside of finding a book cover artist and figuring out a marketing strategy and getting copies readied for beta readers, checking with my beta readers to make sure they are still okay with reading it, up my blog posts and research building traffic to the blog…while maintaining a life. 

Writing

A lazy girl’s writing advice

Good news!  The manuscript is not as big of a disaster as I was expecting. Going back and reading during the writing process really helped me keep the plot under control. I’m not saying there are no mistakes. Because there are a lot of those. But it isn’t as bad as last time I attempted an edit.

I started developmental edits today. I added in an entirely new first chapter. I realized that I needed to start my book off with a bigger bang than the slow pace it had been. I also wanted to provide some context for the backstory and avoid summarizing it throughout the rest of the book. While I did my read through, I wrote on my notepad what needed changed and my goal is to have those edits completed by next weekend so I can devote Friday and Saturday to copy editing. (I wrote a complete plan for my editing process in my last post Holey Moley, it’s first read day!) 


My biggest issue this week was motivation. I had a draining week at work and by the time I got home, the thought of reading, or doing anything related to my book, was exhausting. I pushed through and worked Monday and Tuesday night, but Wednesday and Thursday, Kris and I played one of my favorite games, Stardew Valley. Ridiculously simple, but so engaging. A little addictive too. 


I felt guilty because I took the time off. But on Friday I hit it hard, catching up on everything! I think sometimes we look at those professional writers who tell us to write every day and we have to take a step back and say “I wish I could buddy but here’s the real deal, I work full time. And some days, if I don’t have a little me time, this book will never get done cause I’m gonna quit.” So if you are like me and you just need a few days off, do it! Don’t feel guilty because some yahoo with a YouTube channel can write every day. (On that note, should you really be taking advice from a girl who just took 2 days off for no reason other than being tired? See, I’m just as mean to myself as I am to others!) 


I tell my husband all the time, I would kill it if I stayed home and wrote for a living. I woke up this morning and wrote 1400 words without blinking. Then went through my story, adding in those details I noted and moving text around. I researched some editors I want to contact. Now I’m working on a blog post. It is just a little after 11 and I didn’t start until just before 8. This afternoon, I’ll work a little more on the developmental edits. I feel good about what I have accomplished and know that it makes up for my two days of not working. 

I have to work a 9 to 5 job because I like nice things like food and a roof over my head. Writing might have to take a back seat every once in a while. I should never feel guilty because I would rather spend some time with my husband and playing fetch with my dogs than working on a book. 

Writing

Holy Moley, it’s first read day!

Somehow this week got away from me. There was some miscommunication between the hubbie and I about whose turn it was to write a post. (Miscommunication in a marriage! Unheard of!)


I waited two weeks and just finished printing off the first draft of my manuscript. Last night was monthly game night, and I also had to work 6 days this week, so keeping myself occupied has been surprisingly easy. 
I did three things before printing off my manuscript. 


1: I changed the font. I read this tip in one of my editing books/blogs or YouTube viewings.Supposedly it tricks your mind to see the story from a fresh perspective.  I write in Times so I selected Comic Sans to read in. 


2: I broke my manuscript into chapters and started each chapter on a new page. 


3: I set the margins at an inch each and double spaced my lines. Giving me plenty of room to edit. 


177 pages later…


I am getting ready to sit down with my manuscript for the first time read through. Kris asked me at lunch today what my plan of action was. 
I’m starting out simple. I am just going to read it. I will have a notepad with me to jot down on anything major with plot, characters, setting, etc. I just want to get a feel for my story. I will resist the urge to edit as I go. I do not want to overwhelm myself like last time. 


I will then break the pages into chunks and work on more detailed editing from there. My first focus will be developmental editing. I have spoken with several people about reading my manuscript over spring break. I have a little under four weeks to get it done. That makes me highly motivated.


Copy editing will be my next task, looking for major grammatical issues. I hope that my beta readers can read the book over spring break and give me feedback within two weeks. Based on the beta-readers suggestions, I will more than likely have to make adjustments.


Proofreading will be my last step before I find a professional editor. Kris loves research and has already looked at several companies for me. We are in a bit of sticker shock at the moment. Editors are expensive! Not going to see the beach for a while.


I have a solid plan now that I’ve typed it out. Starting is going to be the hardest part. Good thing I have Diet Coke and wine.

Writing

First Draft Done! Now what?

Last Friday, I did the impossible. I finished the first draft of my current project early. Don’t worry no one is more surprised by this than me. It was a great feeling, it all finally coming to that dramatic conclusion I had been dreaming about for three months. I have not looked at it since taking a picture of my total word count to share with all of my friends and family. I may not go back to it until February 22. IT IS KILLING ME! 


My husband cooked me a celebratory meal, steak and green beans. It was delicious. He followed Alton Brown’s instructions from his show Good Eats Reloaded. 


To distract myself, I have been reading books on editing. We stopped in the local bookstore on Saturday and looked over the books because my search online left me overwhelmed. I picked up a copy of The Editor’s Companion. It is a book written by an editor for editors. It explains the different elements to look for, not the most exciting read, but it gave me a place to start. I’ve also started one from Kindle Unlimited called Fix your Damn Book! How to Painlessly Self-Edit Your Novels & Stories. It is amusing and offers many of the same tips. I also ordered Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Reading it this weekend. 


I’ve been a little lost this last week. We had gotten into such a great groove of writing in the evenings; I miss it. I started an outline for a new novel. It will be another YA Supernatural, but a little darker. I did a lot of research last night on different supernatural monsters. I had a lot of fun, and my research didn’t narrow down my focus at all. It was super helpful. 

Spock was less than impressed with my accomplishment


I’m using the Save the Cat Beat Sheet for this novel. (Can you tell that I’m a little obsessed with reading about this whole writing as a craft thing?) I was just looked it over again, fixing typos and filling in a hole or too. Right now my novel is like a dream you know you had, but you can’t remember the details. It’s all fuzzy, and you can make out bits and pieces. I just need a few more days to flush out the ideas. I want to write again this weekend. 

Time to relax!


I’m excited to start the deep edits in the coming weeks. I hope that I can manage that while I write another one. My goal for this next novel is to have it done by the end of April. You can laugh at me now if you want to.

Writing

Down the rabbit hole, learning about publishing a book….

Yikes! My wife wants to be a writer; I enjoy goofing off (It’s no secret). Anyway, the original plan was she writes and I learn how to do audio books, maybe hers one day. I built a room in our basement, gathered the required gear. Sitting down at my computer, scrolling through endless books, I had an epiphany. Not to offend anyone but 50% of the auditions I clicked on were unreadable. Poor grammar, run-on sentences, unedited. I couldn’t  attempt to read some of this stuff. So I threw in the towel and told the wife I will try to write. She rolled her eyes and laughed at me…

As someone who is all in on everything I do, I started the research on publishing. “Uh, what?” I kept saying to myself. From the start I envisioned writing a book, trying to send it to an agent or editor then a traditional publishing company. They don’t market it for you? Really? That can’t be!  Three hours of research later and my wife’s constant “I told you so” I accepted the truth. You must market your own book.

Do you need an editor?  Uh, how do I acquire one of those? Well, you send your manuscript around and if it’s any good someone will edit for you. If it stinks? Well, maybe you need more self editing.

What is a graphic artist and why do I need one? I can use GIMP. Do you want to sell any books? I hadn’t even stumbled upon all the marketing research yet.  How could I have been so blind? 

When I started my wife failed to mention writing the manuscript was only a ¼ of the work. These “authors” are dedicated. I poke fun but seriously, it is a monstrous undertaking. A daunting task of writing, researching and learning everything you can about the craft before publishing your first book. In a later blog maybe I can give some pointers.  I am still learning and digesting all the information out there.

I’m currently at 13,000 words and going strong. My goal of 18,500 by Sunday night looks achievable. I have high hopes of it being readable. If not, we have a shredder. 

Writing

Dede’s Writing Journey

Last year, I decided that I would sit down and write my first book. I had an idea for one rolling around in my head for years, started it several times and gave up. This time differed from all the other times for a variety of reasons. The main reason, I had my husband’s unwavering support and encouragement. Before I embarked this time, I read all the books on writing that I had bought over the years, including Steven King’s On Writing. (If you haven’t read that yet, please do. It is full of great advice.)

The biggest take away: write every day. I needed to write whether I felt like it, whether I was inspired or had the energy or wanted too.

So I set a goal for myself. I would write 1500 words a day. (I would do more on the weekends when I was not working. Rarely happened though.) 

I also told myself to “pants it”; never peek back at what I wrote. Just write. Editing would come later. But, there would be no major issues, right? (Cue canned crowd laughter)

For a little over three weeks, I stuck to it. Every day, I would come home from work and I would take care of the dogs, cook dinner, etc. After dinner, I would sit down at the table and write my words. 

Spock, our cat, was my “helper” during this process. Most of the time, he just judged.

I struggled at first, checking every two hundred words to see if I had hit my goal. After the first week, I needed to check less and less. Then I was writing those words without blinking. 

I got sick after week 3: I couldn’t write. My poor dogs didn’t get their daily walks. My husband hid from me to avoid catching what I had. The Bjorson household was miserable.

But then I picked the writing up again and after two long months, I completed my first draft! Doing as I had read, I put the manuscript away for a few weeks.


My husband bought a printer, and we printed off two copies. He started reading my precious book. 

And he did not have much to say. So I asked him to say something. 

He said it was hard to read because it was so full of errors. 

And he was right. 

My story could be interesting. But because I took everyone’s advice and never looked back to look at what I wrote, I had some major errors in my writing. 

So I started the monumental task of editing. I bought a couple books, read a couple blog posts, watched YouTube videos on what is the best way to do this. I settled at the desk again and read my story. I attacked it the way I attack my students’ essays. And you know what happened?

I got overwhelmed. 

Because there was so much to fix, so many plot holes and so much that was just wrong. The story I had loved and poured hours into was suddenly something I hated. 

It didn’t help that I was planning a wedding. We also moved, selling our home and buying a new one. All within two months of each other. (If you want to test your relationship, do this. If you survive, it means you are meant to be together.) 

Once we settled into our new home and married life, I now had a cluttered, bright office to call my own. I pulled out the manuscript and tried tackling it again. This was just under six months ago. 

I’m still working on it. Because it is hard. A lot harder than anyone ever made it sound. 

November rolled around, and I took part in my first writing challenge for NaMoWriMo. And I did decently well. I did not hit the 50,000 word limit but did get to 30,000. With this new story, I tried a different tactic. I completed a plan/outline of how I wanted the story to go. Which helped me get started and stay organized. Halfway through, I back-tracked to the beginning. I started editing, and I started filling in holes. I recognized events I had set up I needed to reveal, or discovered major plot points I needed to fix. 

Day 1 of the new story. The first day is always the easiest!

What’s my point? 

Figuring out my writing style took a full year. I thought I had to do what other authors did. I read so many books saying that editing as you wrote was detrimental to your writing, it would cause you to never finish. This process would send me into a vortex of editing and not writing, never adding any words! 

For me, it worked exactly opposite. I realized plot holes sooner. If I got stuck, I could edit a little. This always led me to being inspired to continue writing. 

This book is on track to be done by the end of February. (Fingers Crossed!) Which means I can send it off to the editor!  

I’m still working on the other one. I will finish. But for all my future novels, I will stick with the editing as I go. This may not be what the books say to do, but it works for me. And it may not work for you. 

Don’t be discouraged if you have been struggling. Try something new. Try writing at a different time of day; go back and look at what you have been writing. Talk to someone about your book. Skip to a different part of your novel.

Do whatever you need to do to get it done!

They make rules to be broken.