Confessions of a Slow Writer: Why NaNoWriMo isn’t for Everybody – by Anne R. Allen…

A topic dear to my heart as I participate in NaNoWriMo, knowing (and accepting) that I’ll never make a 50K word count goal. I’m a slow writer, too, but maybe that’s not all bad…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

We live in a speed-obsessed civilization. Whatever it is we crave—cars, trains, electronics, food, dates—we want them ever-faster-and-furiouser. In fact, much of the developed world seems to be engaged some turbocharged drag race of the soul, hurtling our frenzied selves from cradle to grave, terrified of slowing for even a minute of rose-smelling.

So here we are in National Novel Writing Month, when much of the writing community is turning out fiction at rate of speed never imagined by our pre-electronic-age foreparents. NaNoWriMo can do great things for a lot of writers and help them take their craft to the next level. A number of excellent, bestselling books have started as NaNo projects, and I do recommend it for writers who need to overcome blocks and “creativity wounds.

If you’re participating, you’re probably here on the fly, champing at the bit to get back to that brilliant WIP. Go…

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What’s New Wednesday

November is just a week away. Not sure how that happened! I’m starting to feel like those old ladies from the wedding scene in Muppets Take Manhattan. A little group of babies sings, “days go passing into years,” to which a group of old ladies responds, “years go passing day by day…” It can’t just be me, right?

Anyway, November means NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Authors are challenged to write 50,000 words over just 30 days. I’ll never make anything close to that in a month–I have too many other obligations between work and family, not to mention I’m more of a slow, deliberate writer by nature. The closest I’ve ever gotten is I think 35,000.

But that doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t worthwhile. It’s a good motivator to set aside time alongside many thousands of my fellow authors to make my work-in-progress come alive, one word at a time!

Right now that work-in-progress is a novella I’m writing about Broguean the Bard, a character who appears in Ancient Voices, Visions of Light and Shadow, and in one of my short stories called “A Bard’s Tale.” I’ve got about a third of it done already, so I wouldn’t even need 50k to finish it off. My cover artist has nearly completed the artwork for it as well, which is very exciting. With any luck, I’ll be able to get this novella done in 2018 and have it ready to publish in early 2019. Read an excerpt from the first chapter below. Want to read the entire first chapter? It’s at the end of the Visions of Light and Shadow ebook.


The sun hadn’t quite gone down yet, but the tavern at Westfalle was nearly full and Broguean’s head was starting to spin. With some satisfaction, he noted that it was getting harder for him to tell if there was one mug or two on the table in front of him. So long as he aimed for the middle, his hand managed to find the handle easily enough. The truth was, he had learned to function quite normally in such a state. It was as comfortable and familiar to him as a good pair of walking shoes—not to mention it usually made everyone around him a fair bit more interesting. He took a long, deep draught from his mug, draining it until he could see the bottom.

He had traveled extensively over the years, sampling many different brews from throughout the realm, but the uniqueness of this tavern’s ale was by far his favorite. He savored the sweetness and the spices, encouraging them to linger on his tongue as the warmth coursed through him like liquid joy. He wasn’t the only one who appreciated this tavern’s signature flavor. The establishment was overflowing with both travelers and men coming in off the fields, which made it a good place for barding. He hadn’t paid for a drink yet, and his coin purse was actually heavier than it had been when he’d walked through the door. He sighed with contentment, then raised his hand to signal the tavern maid for another.

The poor woman was more harried than usual as she weaved through the crowded room wielding a heavy pitcher of ale. She made an art of refilling empty cups with one hand, while sliding coins off the table into a pouch with the other. Languid strands of her dark hair had slipped from their covering, causing her to frequently brush them back in annoyance. Her cheeks were flushed with heat, and perhaps a bit of indignation as well. The boisterous fellow several tables over couldn’t seem to keep his hands on his mug when she came by to refill it. But if the tavern maid didn’t decide to poison his drink, there were plenty of others in the room who just might. He’d been boasting all night of his adventures in the depths of the Crevasse. He had just made his way from that wretched place, he said, having bested many Beasts, and trolls, and demons in forms too grotesque to describe.

“And then suddenly a scaly creature rose up from the pit, with two heads and snakes for tongues that spit poison,” Broguean heard the man bellow to those around him. By now he was too inebriated to realize how loud he’d become. “I cut off one of its heads with a single stroke, but then two more grew back in its place. I knew I was in for a tough fight, but then the Crevasse is no place for the faint-hearted.” He took a long drink while keeping his eye on the tavern maid, who made a wide circle around him to serve another table. “If you ever encounter such a creature,” he advised, raising an unsteady finger to signal he wanted more ale, “aim for the snakes.” Broguean rolled his eyes. He doubted such a creature existed beyond the confines of the man’s imagination. Though he’d hoped the story was finally concluded, the man droned on. “Mind you, this was after I’d already bested two ogres and a lich—nasty things those are…”

Why not throw in a wyvern or two for good measure, Broguean thought with irritation. Or perhaps the Shadow himself. The ridiculousness of it aside, his person showed no signs of recent battle. There were no lingering stains of blood or sweat. No bruises, scratches, or flecks of mud from the road marred his perfectly groomed appearance. Not even a hint of fatigue haunted his expression. This man was no hero fresh from the depths of the Crevasse. Broguean had known real heroes, real warriors. He had seen what such men looked like after battle, and he knew the toll it took on them well afterward. This braggart’s lies belittled their very real sacrifices, made with pain, and with blood. The man was begging to be cut down a bit, and Broguean didn’t need a blade to do it.

Through his inebriated haze the words began to form. Some of his best work was done on such nights, when the ale had successfully removed all of his cares, leaving just he and his craft to wrestle with one another. As the words came, the tune did also, blending together in his mind as one perfect and inseparable being. His fingers strummed a few cautious notes on his lute, then grew stronger in confidence with the encouragement of the tavern’s patrons. It was a bold and powerful tune, one befitting the epic ballads of ancient heroes. He was quite familiar with the style, though he did not often use it. The people wanted entertainment—they would get it. More of it than they expected by the time he was through, he imagined. Broguean smiled wryly and moved close to the boastful man’s table, looking him square in the eye and nodding. The man steadily returned his gaze, sure that the bard’s attention had been sufficiently captured by his impressive tales of glory.

Broguean continued to strum, adding more complex harmonies to the tune as he cleared his voice and began to sing with all the seriousness he could muster.

“To the Crevasse our champion went,
With might and strength of heroes old;
Fierce through the Shadow Wood he rent,
To fight the ancient evils bold.

“Thanks to the Ancients for our fierce champion,
to whom belongs the victory.”

The man was now nodding and beaming, raising a glass, not to the song, but to himself, for of course, who else could such a song be about? Broguean could barely contain his amusement to maintain the somber and haunting lilt of the song. Had his head not been so full of ale, he might have thought better of what he was about to do. But all were expectant now, and some rolling their eyes at him, wondering how he could enshrine such a fool in song. Broguean gave them a quick wink that said, just wait, and kept singing.

“Forward he charged, with sword raised high,
The challenge raised so all could hear;
‘For Glory!’ was his battle cry,
His foes before him fled in fear.

“Thanks to the Ancients for our fierce champion,
to whom belongs the victory.”

The man was really getting into it now, his chest expanded well beyond its due. Broguean had to strum an extra refrain to maintain his composure as the next lines slipped into his mind, and laughter threatened to spill past his lips.

“Down he plunged, but something was wrong,
Or else he’d made an error steep;
T’was not the wicked place from song,
This mighty Crevasse was but knee deep!

“Thanks to the Ancients for our fierce champion,
to whom belongs the victory.”

Broguean could hear low chuckles and cautious snickering lifting up all around the room, while the man’s chest deflated somewhat and his face flushed with confusion. Something was definitely amiss, but too much drink was making him slow to grasp precisely what.

“No stench of death for him to meet,
Nor grotesque monsters he did find;
Fleeing the crack before his feet,
Were vermin of the rodent kind.

“Thanks to the Ancients for our fierce champion,
to whom belongs the victory.”

Light chuckles erupted into more pronounced laughter, and the man’s red face began to harden with anger. He stood to his feet, placing his fists on the table and glaring at Broguean threateningly. Broguean made sure he was well out of reach, but he had one more verse to unleash upon the arrogant fool.

“Across his path the Shadow rose,
A foe most worthy to dethrone;
Alas, despite his forceful throes,
The shadow was his very own…”

The arrogant warrior snarled with rage. He clambered over the table to get at Broguean, knocking over drinks and shoving patrons out of the way as he went. Broguean, now laughing heartily and barely in control of his own limbs, stumbled backwards and fell just as the man’s fist whistled through the air where his head had been. It found an unfortunate target instead—the face of another man seated on the bench behind him. He too was laughing, and so didn’t see the swing coming until it was too late. Knocked down and bleeding, his three drinking friends rose from their places at the table, none too pleased. From there chaos ensued as a lively brawl began. Broguean, still laughing, held tight to his lute and crouched below the fray, working his way across the room and out the door.

He stumbled into the shadows of a narrow alley beside the tavern. The only light left now was a deep crimson rim around the edge of the sky. The moon was still young overhead, and the stars had only just begun to peek out. Through the walls he could hear the uproar in the tavern. His only regret was that he’d left a full mug of ale sitting on the table, but he dared not go back for it. He shook with laughter as he recalled the range of expressions on the man’s face, from boastful, to baffled, and finally to boiling rage. He laughed so hard that tears rolled down from the corners of his eyes. He deserved it, that conceited cox-comb, Broguean thought. Crevasse indeed! If he holds his own in that tavern brawl it’ll be more than I expect of him…

 

Writing As a Waking Dream

I very much identified with this post as the way I write–and how feel about interruptions! A very interesting take from Adam at Write Thoughts.


Writing as a Waking Dream #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

How many here have struggled to “return to their story”? You sit at your table, pen in hand or fingers on the keyboard, but you’re not “ready” to write yet. You don’t “feel” the characters, or their world.

So you review what you’ve written; you do some random low pressure writing exercise, or maybe you just start “babbling” into your medium, and slowly, you feel yourself “returning to that world”. You can “feel” the characters, and “see” their world. Then something snaps you back. Someone has opened the door, walked into the room, and asked you a question, and just like that you’re “awake”. And part of you realizes there’s no quick route back to that “other place”…

Continue reading: https://writet.blog/2018/06/19/writing-as-a-waking-dream-authortoolboxbloghop/

 

World Building: Creating a Mountain Setting

World building is a lot of fun for me as a writer. It is also important to readers, since a well or poorly written world can make or break a book. I found this post especially interesting, maybe because Ancient Voices takes place entirely in a mountain village. Mine is more an alpine setting, but there are many different types of ranges and associated cultures. Take a look at this article posted on the Mythcreants blog–it’s a good one!


Creating a Mountain Setting

Of all the possibilities for building worlds, the same few types appear over and over again: desert worlds, grasslands, globe-encompassing seas. Despite being passed over, mountainous biomes, whether old and eroded like the Blue Ridge range or “new” and towering like the Himalayas, have a lot to offer. So what makes a makes a mountainous region unique for worldbuilding? What kind of people live there and what kind of environments do they inhabit?
Click to read the rest on the Mythcreants blog

Great News for Indie Authors!

It’s always good to get encouraging news when you’re an indie author, and I found a whole lot of encouragement in this article so I thought I’d pass it on. Not all that long ago there was a huge stigma associated with self-publishing, but not so much any more. Hard work and perseverance does pay off! Special thanks goes to all you readers out there who are helping to change the trends. It wouldn’t be happening without your support.


Traditional publishers’ ebook sales drop as indie authors and Amazon take off – By Frank Catalano (published in GeekWire)

 

Ebook sales are dying. Ebooks are insanely popular. If the short definition of cognitive dissonance is holding two contradictory ideas to be true, ebooks are about as dissonant as digital content gets.

Yet ebooks may also represent a chapter in the still-being-written story of how keeping track of what’s happening with content hasn’t always kept pace with the technology that’s transformed it.

Let’s start with the bad news. Two new sets of numbers covering 2017 show ebook sales are on the decline, both in terms of unit and dollar sales.

The first, released in April by market research firm NPD’s PubTrack Digital, saw the unit sales of ebooks fall 10 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. In absolute numbers, that meant the roughly 450 publishers represented saw ebook sales drop from 180 million units to 162 million over a year’s time.

The second, just released by the American Association of Publishers, reported a decline in overall revenue for ebooks, a year-to-year decrease of 4.7 percent in 2017. AAP tracks sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

This ebook decline occurred in an overall publisher revenue environment that AAP said was essentially flat in 2017. So some other kinds of book formats that AAP watches, like hardback books, went up as ebooks went down. For its part, NPD says when combining print and ebook unit sales, ebooks’ percentage of the total dropped from 21 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017.

It turns out this downward ebook trend isn’t new. It may actually be an improvement, of sorts. “The pace of ebook decline appears to be cooling,” AAP’s Marisa Bluestone said, noting 2017’s drop was, “significantly less than the double-digit declines experienced in 2015 and 2016.”

Among the categories showing a decline in both NPD’s and AAP’s figures were kids’ ebooks. Children’s ebooks had the most dramatic decline in unit sales, and children’s/young adult ebooks have suffered double-digital revenue drops every since year 2015.

And yet, NPD reports, even though it’s also declining, adult fiction remains the most popular ebook category, with 44 percent of all adult fiction sales in digital form.

On the surface it would seem like all of this is going to come as a surprise to boosters who thought ebooks would replace traditional paper book publishing completely.

But there are three key words to keep in mind: “traditional book publishing.” And that’s the good ebook news. Because the very same technology that allowed traditional publishers to create and sell ebooks also allowed authors to do the same — directly to readers.

NPD and AAP don’t measure those indie sales. Centralized reporting of direct-from-author sales is tougher to come by, but by all anecdotal measures the independent market has taken off, notably in the also-still-large category of adult fiction.

Click to read the rest of this “good ebook news” on GeekWire

 

Seven Ways to Market Your Self-Published Novel…

Congratulations! You’ve published your first novel (or maybe your second or your third) and now you’re ready to market it.

This can be a daunting moment. I think all of us secretly hope that our novel will be miraculously discovered and recognised as the masterpiece it truly is … but we know that isn’t going to happen without some sort of marketing.

The good news – especially if the very idea of marketing makes you shudder – is that there’s no single “right” way to let the world know about your book.  There are lots of different techniques you might try, depending on the type of book you’ve written, and the type of author you are.

I’m focusing on self-published novelists in this post. Many of these suggestions will work just fine for traditionally published authors too, but as a self-publisher, you have full control over things like the price of your book – and carte blanche to market in any way you see fit.

I’ve also kept this list short: seven ideas rather than the 50+ you might find on some sites.  I’ve come across some huge lists of marketing ideas for novelists … but often I end up feeling that most of the ideas aren’t necessarily all that workable or impactful.

While there are an almost unlimited number of things you could do to promote your novel, in this post, I’m going to focus on seven very common ones:

Read the rest of the post: http://www.aliventures.com/seven-ways-market-novel/

Shared thanks to Chris the Story Readin’g Ape’s Blog: Seven Ways to Market Your Self-Published Novel…

Show & Tell (Part 1) by Adam at Write Thoughts

“Show, don’t tell” is common phrase that attempts to oversimplify a complex topic. “Show” and “Tell” are both essential for good writing. They represent complimentary techniques for writing prose. It is true that telling is often easier, and as a result it’s frequently over used, but both have their place in writing.

Telling in a Nutshell

If writing is the art of using words to convey meaning, then telling is the technique of blatantly stating the meaning directly. “He was mean.” “She was nice.” “It was hot outside.” Few words have been used and the meaning is clear, but the significance of the meaning is left vague. Audiences know what the character thinks and feels, but almost nothing about the object of those thoughts and feelings. No concrete information has been revealed.

Telling is also very passive experience for the audience. Audiences don’t have to think to understand the meaning of the text. They simply absorb it.

Showing in a Nutshell

Showing, in contrast, is an indirect approach. Showing implies meaning through details. “Rain pelted the windows.” “He cradled the dog in his arms.” “She hummed softly as she worked.” By themselves, these phrases could mean many things. Perhaps he likes dogs, or perhaps he is a nice person. Perhaps she is a diligent worker, or perhaps music is an important aspect of her life.

As audiences learn more, the range of possible meanings narrows, until audiences are able to reach a conclusion. However, showing is not limited to a single meaning, and often carries multiple implications. It’s possible for the protagonist to like dogs and be a nice person.

Continue reading…Show & Tell (1/3)