How I Write: A writer-in-progress

There has been a fantastic writers meme going around where writers let us inside their heads, letting us know how they view their writing process. So far, it’s been great for me; it’s always nice to know how another writer gets through each day, as much of the time I am comforted by their processes, realising we all work in different ways. There is no absolute, correct, hard and fast rule to writing, which is a thought I’m comforted by.

I read Beanie Queen and Contemporary Romance Author Lily Malone‘s 2 weeks ago, then followed her link to Kylie Kaden‘s last week, and somehow between then and now, Lily asked me if I’d pick up the baton – despite the fact I’m not even published yet, which I have to say, made me pretty chuffed. Hence my title: Writer-In-Progress. Continue reading

I’m un-published. Why am I having my Manuscript Edited?

My manuscript is finished. All done. But I have no agent, no publisher, no prospects. Why I am paying someone to edit it?kill your darlings

I wanted a professional opinion on it. I finally finished it but knew it needed more eyes. I felt that as I AM a newbie, I would benefit profoundly from having a professional help me polish my manuscript to perfection.

I am so, so pleased I did. Continue reading

The TRUTH in FICTION

Those two words would be seen individually as almost mutually exclusive. Yet in Fiction there is almost always some element of Truth. Of Believability. In some cases – science-fiction / supernatural themes – a writer creates a whole world. Yet even within that the world needs to be believable.fact or fiction

As you move into contemporary fiction, rural literature, romance… the worlds are generally apart of our world. Writers may create the town but that town exists near somewhere real. The fake town may be based on a real town.

Things that exist in reality can be spotted a mile away.

And here is my dilemma. My work is set in real place, involves real issues in Gold Coast society, even commenting on the road works that took place between 2012 and 2013. As I started writing this four years ago, I have had to amend my timeline more than once, and I’m now dangerously close to the edge where some scenes are losing their factual correctness.

As a READER, if you are reading a book set in your area, how crucial is it that the timing is right?

For example, if the writer describes a past event happening in a space that was once a carpark but is now a shopping centre, does the real-time accuracy of this affect your reading? Would you be wondering if the writer got the years right?

As a writer, how do you tackle this?

I enjoy writing about places that are real with people that come from my mind. But am I treading dark water here?

Please comment your thoughts below, I’m keen for advice on this one!

Author Interview with Lily Malone – breaking into the market, self-publishing and more!

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2014! What a better way to start the year than with Wordleberry’s very first author interview!

Today I welcome Lily Malone, Australian Contemporary Romance author of “His Brand of Beautiful” (Escape Publishing) and “The Goodbye Ride” (Self-published) to Wordleberry.Goodbye_Ride

I love Lily’s way with words. I thoroughly enjoyed both her current works, and with her newest novel “Fairway to Heaven” releasing on the 8th of January (squeeeee!) I asked her if I could interview her, to which she accepted, yay for us! I put a lot of thought into composing my questions; this is my first author interview. In the end I asked Lily exactly what I, the aspiring author, wanted to know. Not realising how many questions I asked, then loving the huge reply from Lily, it was decided to put the interview into two parts. Today we talk about breaking into the market, self-publishing versus traditional publishing and Lily’s process. In two days on the third of January I will post the second half – everything you want to know (well everything I wanted to know haha) about “Fairway to Heaven”.

Welcome Lily!

Hi Ali – thanks for having me – it’s a pleasure to visit your blog. (Your blog is vey pretty, might I say!) 
(Thanks Lily!!)

Breaking into the market.
“His Brand Of Beautiful” was your debut novel and was published in March 2013 by Escape Publishing. When you were first searching for a home for this novel, how many agents/publishers did you submit to before finding Escape?

Oh – how long have you got Ali? Answering this question is tricky, because I submitted His Brand Of Beautiful to many agents and publishers over 12 months, and it was rejected. It was rejected for good reason. The book wasn’t ready. I had so much to learn. What helped me was feedback from entering RWA contests (such as the STALI – Single Title And Loving It); and critique partner feedback. Also – time was what I needed. Time getting words on a page. Time spent re-reading, deleting, reading craft posts, learning. It was invaluable to me.

In April of 2012, a scene from HBOB made the finals in the RWA’s First Kiss competition and that was an indication to me I was getting on the right track with the story. Then late in 2012 I realised that even after working on it for such a long time, I still had the start all wrong. I started it in completely the wrong place. When I fixed this for the final time and submitted it again to those who’d yet to see it – that’s when I started getting the good feedback. For example, requests for the Full for the first time, and then that glorious Saturday when I got ‘The Call’ – or actually it was ‘The Email’. In that weekend I had offers of publication from Crimson Romance, and Escape, and I went with Escape because Kate Cuthbert is lovely, and I thought given it was an Australian story, I’d like to be with an Australian publisher.
After I signed the contract with Escape, I had two further requests for Fulls on HBOB, from Wild Rose Press & Entangled. But it was all a done deal by then.

At what point did you decide to move away from traditional print publishing and the search for an agent, directing instead towards e-publishing (with brands such as Escape) and self-publishing?

It wasn’t a conscious decision. Honestly, if a print publisher had picked up HBOB, I would have leapt at the chance, just as I leapt toward Escape. In regards an Agent – that was just SO HARD. I felt like I couldn’t get any kind of foot in the door. Again part of this was the book wasn’t ready when I began submitting it. By the time the book *was* ready, I think I’d exhausted my list of agents.
So that might be a word of warning – when you think you’re ready to submit the book – you really are probably not. Make sure you’ve had other sets of eyes reading it (not your friends)… take on board the feedback you get, revise, revise, revise (leave it at least a month and then read it again) and then start submitting.
Now – I’m not worried about agents anymore. One day it might happen. For now what’s important is getting more work out there, more titles under my belt and learning, learning, learning.

Would you do anything differently if you had to do it again?
(See my answer above).
Patience isn’t my virtue. I get terribly impatient toward the end of the writing process. I want to hit send. I want to hit publish. I have to really train myself hard to make sure I send the book to CPs and then Beta readers and finalise, finalise, finalise.

Self Publishing.
After the release of “His Brand of Beautiful” with Escape Publishing, what led you to self-publish your novella “The Goodbye Ride” so soon after, and why did you choose to self-publish?

The Goodbye Ride is a novella set in Hahndorf (tourist mecca town in South Australia in the Adelaide Hills – it’s a glorious little town) and it is set over the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend which in SA, falls in June.
So I had the novella finished by April 2013, and I did submit it to Escape, but in the time between me submitting it, and hearing back, I’d continued to work on it. (See – I’d been impatient again – I submitted the book to Escape before I’d even had CP feedback). Somewhere along this line, I discovered Marion Archer of Making Manuscripts, and she offered to Beta read The Goodbye Ride for me. With Marion’s feedback, and then with my CP feedback, I ended up adding almost another 12,000 words to The Goodbye Ride and it became a far better story. Unfortunately Escape never saw the book again from this point, because time was marching on, and as I mentioned, I wanted to have it available by the Queen’s Birthday weekend.
I am an editor by trade. I felt that I had a clean manuscript without errors, and with the changes suggested through my round of Beta reader/CP feedback, I could get it ready to go. I also knew a certain graphic designer [Bright Eyed Owl] who could make a cover for me. And I felt confident in working through the self-publishing process on Amazon. So I felt there was nothing to lose and everything to gain, in me getting a second Lily Malone book out within those few months (March 2013 for HBOB, late May for TGR).

“Fairway to Heaven” is being self-published. What lead you to making that choice? 

My dreadful impatience! Fairway is set on the beautiful beach at Geographe Bay in Western Australia and it’s a summer story. I really love the concept of ‘Reading in Real Time’. I feel the book is ready to go and I just don’t want to put myself on that rollercoaster of waiting for a publisher to get back to me. Possibly because I’ve been through it with The Goodbye Ride, I feel more confident about making this decision this time. I value my relationship with Marion Archer, and with Bright Eyed Owl who has done me another wonderful cover, and I’ve been lucky to have critique partners/Beta Readers in Kylie Kaden, Jennie Jones and Juanita Kees, who have all read the book and given me brilliant feedback.

As a self-publishing Author, what can you not live without?

Beta readers who give honest feedback!

When do you know a piece of work is ready for the real world? Do you have a set of steps to follow or do you go with your gut?

At the end of the day it’s a gut call. I’m not too proud over the words I’ve written to not be able to take feedback – as a journalist and editor – I cut my stuff all the time. But I have had to train myself to realise this publishing caper isn’t an individual thing. Outside eyes are invaluable. My CPs are not just professional contacts, they are reading and writing friends that I trust implicitly.
But even with their suggestions and comments, at the end of the day it is my gut call about what to revise, what to rework. It is my story and I’m the one who knows what these characters would and wouldn’t do. Any author would say the same!

There are a lot of novice writers like myself out there, on the cusp of the publishing world. We are at the stage of deciding whether to follow traditional or self-publishing. What is your advice to us?

I would say go the traditional route first. There is nothing like the sense of validation when a publisher tells you they want your work. Kate Cuthbert’s call at Escape – and the other editors who expressed interest in my book – they help me understand my writing has a market. This has made me more confident about all my subsequent decisions.

To be successful with self-publishing, being able to market and advertise yourself, and develop your readership is key. What social media tool do you find the most effective for attracting new readers?

Oh – I don’t know an answer to this one and I bounce this around with so many writing friends. I think above everything else, the key thing is to write the next book. Don’t get so stuck on social media trying to promote the book you’ve just published, that you forget to write the next book. I’m pretty sure most people agree that the more (good quality) stories you have in the market, the more chance of someone stumbling across you… or looking you up if they come across a book they like. So when it’s written, promote it as best you can, send your baby out into the world, soak it up for a while… and get back to the next book!

The process. 
What is your favourite part of the whole process?

Editing, I think. I always picture editing as kind of like going for a haircut. At first, the hairdresser (editor) can cut huge chunks out and let them fall to the floor, after she’s cut off those big chunks, she starts shaping and refining and the cuts get smaller and more intricate and layered. (Layering is a key word – I enjoy that part of the process which is a ‘craft’ part).

Wow! We’ve got this far and I haven’t even asked Lily about her new release, “Fairway To Heaven” yet… so let’s save that for next time.

To find out more about what makes Lily tick, visit her blog: www.lilymalone.wordpress.com and check the About pages.
Lily is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lily.lilymalone
And Twitter: https://twitter.com/lily_lilymalone

LilyM_lowres

Australian Contemporary Romance
His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride
Both on Amazon now!

See you all in two days for Part 2 of my interview with the Lovely Lily Malone!

Editing. Editing. Editing. Plus a teaser.

It finally happened. After 4 years and a lot of stopping and starting, it’s finally done. I’ve been through the hardest time of my life, moved three times and now I’m on the other side of the world about to witness my first white christmas (hopefully) after travelling for 5 months (with another 5 to come!) with a man I’m crazy about, and it’s finished. I completed ‘Finding Heaven.’ (N:B I may ask for help with this title. It has stuck with me the whole time but I’m not quite sure about it.)

I’d like to clarify that this is not the first draft. This is draft number…..who knows? I have edited many of the scenes many times, while some are still fresh, but I have finally written ‘The End’ and I’m ready for the next phase.

What is the next phase?

For me, it’s reading through the script from beginning to end, ensuring I have fixed all the “XXX” I’ve put throughout. XXX is my symbol to say “You’re not finished here yet!” or “I’m not quite sure about this…” At this stage I want to ensure the spelling, grammar, plot, characters, you name it, are as correct and smooth as possible.

One drama with this is that my eyes have seen this writing for a long time, and sometimes I read things in my head as I know they should be written, not necessarily what I actually wrote. Does that make sense to anyone else?

This is where my search for an independent editor began, and is where I found Marion from Making Manuscripts who has agreed to work with me, editing and polishing this manuscript. To what end, no one can guess at this stage, but I’m very excited about the possibilities.

Many of you will not know about my previous blog I had when I first started following my writing passion. On this blog I posted a scene excerpt from ‘Finding Heaven’ in December, 2010. Yes, three whole entire years ago I was working on this. However I’m proud to so I have accomplished a lot in the six months, re-working the original manuscript and adding over 40 thousand words to the word count. Anyways! Just for fun I thought I would post the original version and the new version of this scene for fun. No dates.

I’d love to hear your feedback. Which one do you think was written first? Which one do you like better? Maybe I had it right the first time. Maybe I’ve got more work to do! What do you like or dislike?

I also have created a “Writer” page on facebook, looking forward to the day when I can change that to “Author”. Please head over a ‘like’ to get all my blog posts and updates on facebook (here).

So here goes, in no particular order (you may need five minutes with a cup of coffee to read them. Or wine. Maybe wine.):

Disclaimer: Contents may not be suitable to those under 16 as contains adult themes. Also, it’s not the happiest of scenes, so if you are needing a pick-me-up maybe save this reading for later, and instead check out these cute pictures of a toddler and his two-month-old puppy. 🙂

Version 1:

The tiles were cool beneath me.

It was nice.

Everything was foggy. I could just make out the porcelain of the toilet. I could hear my breathing; shallow, and slow.

The CD player in the background was skipping the same part over and over, but I didn’t care.

Suddenly it stopped.

‘Nev?’ Sadie’s voice floated to me from some faraway place. I tried to say ‘I’m in here,’ but all that came out was a hoarse soft croak.

My throat hurt.

‘Nev!’ her voice was right over me now. I tried to see her but she wasn’t in my line of vision and I couldn’t make my head move.

‘Holy shit! Nev!’ her hands were on me, I felt two fingers on my wrist. Her touch felt like flames to me.

Her hand brushed the side of my face, pushing hair out of my eyes. Everything was blurry but I tried to focus.

I still couldn’t see her.

‘What have you done?’ her voice was frantic.

I wanted to cry. Why does she even care about me? I don’t deserve it.

I closed my eyes and begged to be taken.

Her hands were pulling at my arms and chest; trying to move me onto my side I think. I saw flashes of the world from under my heavy lids.

My mind couldn’t recognise anything; mostly I just saw the blackness. For a moment I feared I was going blind; a heinous twist of fate, as I would be left alone with the images of my mind- the very things I wanted to hide from.

Die from, just so I wouldn’t be left alone with them again.

Version 2:

I was on the floor of the bathroom, the tiles cool beneath me.

It was nice.

Everything was foggy. I could just make out the porcelain of the toilet. I could hear my breathing; shallow, and slow.

The CD player in the background was skipping the same part over and over, but I didn’t care.

I had been trying to get to wonderland, but lately it had been getting harder and harder to get there. I would disappear into the darkness, letting it swallow me, and then something would pull me out.

As my body lay still and motionless, pain simmered through me. But I couldn’t move. Like my body was giving up. I just lay there. Flickers of consciousness were breaking through and my mind would bubble with thoughts, as if it had been drowning when suddenly it could break the surface and gasp for air. It spoke to him. My heart broke in my limp chest all over again as words I never dared to think broke from a forbidden part of my mind through the wall I was so carefully building.

It starts deep inside me, whenever I think of you. A dull ache in the middle of my chest. The very heart of me, my soul. It spreads down to the pit of my stomach, a throbbing, pulsing, living pain. It spreads up to my throat, choking my voice, into my mind bringing tightness into my skull. I pray Travis, not again. I pray, not again. 

But it comes. The vast emptiness engulfs me once more. I am consumed. 

My arms were splayed out on the tiles, I couldn’t move them, I couldn’t move at all. Salty hot streams rolled as thoughts I had banished forced their way out, I was powerless against them. I stared up at the ceiling, willing my mind to give out, prayed that I should pass out and stop this assault. Physical pain pierced my chest like a sword.

Will time extinguish this fire in my heart? Or will I feel this always? Will I ever stop asking ‘Why?’ That question, ‘Why?’, it seeks me out, grips my heart in its fierce claws and squeezes until I fold and scream. Every breath is squeezed from my lungs Travis, every moment lacks life, it is a deep void. I’m overwhelmed and alone. I can’t do this anymore… 

Do you ever think of me? Do you ever wish you could hold me to your heart and tell me everything will be okay?  Do thoughts of my face, my laugh, and my hands on your skin ever catch you off guard and consume you? Do you ever think of the life you left behind? 

The music stopped.

‘Nev?’ Sadie’s voice floated to me from some faraway place.

I tried to say ‘I’m in here,’ but all that came out was a hoarse soft croak.

My throat hurt.

I’m here, I’m here…

‘Nev!’ Sadie’s voice was right over me now. A fuzzy shape blotted out the light from the ceiling.

‘Holy shit! Nev!’ Sadie’s hands were on me, I felt pressure on my wrist. Her touch felt like flames to me.

Her hand brushed the side of my face, pushing hair out of my eyes.

I tried to focus on the coffee-coloured haze above me, hands on my face, my head lolled.

‘What have you done?’ her voice was frantic.

Nothing. I wanted to tell her. Words wouldn’t come out. I just wanted it to stop.

I squeezed my eyes shut. I wanted to tell her to leave me, she should stop caring about me, I didn’t deserve it.

My eyes still closed, I begged to be taken.

Her hands were pulling at my arms and chest, trying to move me onto my side. I saw flashes of the world from under my heavy lids. Heard her shouting, calling out. Felt something being shoved down my throat.

And then I didn’t see anything. Felt nothing but a darkness closing in around me, one I had never felt before. Relief started falling over me, I felt light. Yes, I thought, wonderland.

 

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! Whatever they may be 🙂