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writing a novel

What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

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What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

It seems like only yesterday, late October to be exact, that I was sitting down with my Dad talking about our family and writing a book in my head. October, the whole year in fact, was an emotional rollercoaster. It felt like every time I found my feet they were swept back out from under me.

 

I threw myself into writing Lives Paris Took with a vengeance. I had 5,000 words written before NaNoWrMo and had 53,000 written by the end of November. By December I was finished with the first draft, coming out at a solid 81,000 words. 

Because of the tough time I’ve had this year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to be brutal about who I let into my life, who I let hurt me, and how I treat myself. I let my fitness regimen fall away completely. I didn’t stand up to myself. I was furious at the terrible treatment I got from loved ones. But then I realized that so much of it, I could control. I started pruning the branches of my life. I started saying no and not giving my reasons why. 

Editing is much like taking control of your life. There may be authors whose first drafts are these shining beacons of light sent straight down from their heavenly muses…but I am not one of them. My dialogue is contrived. The emotion is emotionless. The descriptions could be about a wooden box and it’s just generally very shallow.

When I embark on an edit it is with the attitude that this is where I shine the most as a writer. I can slog through the first draft, but I dance through edits. Constant revisions make the draft into a work of art.

I’ve finished the last edit now and it’s off to my copyeditor, Husband-in-Chief, for the final 'please check-all-of-my-commas’ edit. I honestly don’t know if there is a better feeling than finally compiling your manuscript in Scrivener and seeing transform from all of its disparate elements, into a novel.

In short, there are only two pieces of advice that you’ll ever need for editing. One is, work from the big picture to the small, and, two, smile while you are doing it. There’s nothing better than seeing it transform before your eyes.

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The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

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The #1 Tool For an Authentic Setting

I've written two books and am in the very early stages on my third book. One thing these books have in common is that they contain places I have never been or haven't visited during the time of year I'm writing about.  

This creates a special set of issues for writers when writing fiction. Chances are that your book will be read by someone who lives in the town or country you've tried to describe. You must add enough detail, from street names to description of the architecture to the feel of the town for the effect to be authentic.  

I am a big proponent of writing about what you don't know. After all we have fantasy writers and historical fiction writers who (usually) haven't been to the time or place they are writing about. 

The single best tool that any writer can use to give detail and authentication to their setting is Google Earth. What's great about Google Earth is that you can type in a specific address and get a 360 degree view of the surrounding area.  

For The Clouds Aren't White I picked out a house on the Isle of Skye so that I could describe the same view out the kitchen window. I've used it for Lives Paris Took to orient myself around Paris and figure out the distance from the Sorbonne to the main character's apartment.  

I suggest downloading Google Earth and trying it out. Look up your house or hometown, figure out what is different. Then look somewhere you've never been and always wanted to visit. After you've puttered around for a while, write a description of it.  

Hope this helps!

Cheers, 

Rachael

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7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

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7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

Life is never easy when you're a debut author/novelist. Even if you're Kim Kardashian. Remember her selfie book totally flopped? Its impossible to accurately predict consumers 100% of the time. There are cold hard facts but there is also hope. 

So here we go:

1. You Are Not Alone: However much you feel it or worry that you are. Believe me, you are not. There are two wonderful groups that I am apart of via the wonderful internet. Shelly Muncaster's wonderful Keystrokes and Closed Doors which is a great gathering place for authors who are working on their novels and the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (which has both a website and facebook page). The IASD group is comprised of both published authors and writers working on their first books. Its one of the best meetings of the minds that I have even been apart of.

2. It'll Be Difficult: There's no getting around it, its terribly hard to be a debut novelist, even if you've finished your book and done the amazing and gotten an agent and publisher. Its a long hard road to get the wider populous to hear about you, much less get them to buy the book. 

3. You'll Loose Time: This will range from time with family to your social life to parts of your sanity, as in where did all the time go. Some days you will be so caught up in your writing, social media strategy, writing bogs, setting up your website, that you won't be able to remember how you got there.

4. No One Loves Your Book As Much As You Do: I've heard writers say 'this book is my baby' or 'a part of my soul went into writing this book' - in that case, calm down Voldemort. But seriously, no one cares about your characters or the story as much as you. Not your spouse or mom (ok that's a stretch-but certainly not my mom) or your best friend or even your agent and editor. This is your project, your hopes and dreams. Don't expect mountains from people who can't deliver them.

5. There's So Much To Celebrate: I am currently celebrating finishing the first draft! Woo-hoo...oh wait now I have to go through three more editing hoops. Huzzah (insert weariness here). But that's the great thing about writing/publishing a book. There are so many little triumphs along the way and gigantic ones as well. Like when an agent asks to see your entire manuscript. Or when your sales start rising on Amazon. Invest in champagne people. Invest.

6. Sooner Or Later You'll Hate Looking At That Cover You Love: Ok so just me? I loved the cover for The Clouds Aren't White when it was designed. I love the colors, the way it matches the tone of the book, the dandelion on the spine. Ok I still love the dandelion. But honestly, it'll get old at some point. You'll look at it a lot. A lot a lot. 

7. It'll Propel You On To The Next Book: This goes with #6. I decided I needed a new book in my life and I wanted to get back to the business of writing. So out comes book #2, Lives Paris Took. The old book will always propel you forward. You'll want to dive back into a world again and figure out the characters. That is why the debut novelist has so much going for him/her...they are driven, they want to succeed. It's not all bad.

Keep your head up and keep writing.

Cheers,

Rachael

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Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

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Writer Momma: Are You Really an Author?

Let's talk about jobs. We all have them. Some are corporate, startups, retail, or based at home. That would be me, with the latter. Early on, my husband and I decided that the best thing for our daughter was for one parent to be with her every day. Thankfully we had been living off one income for the better part of a year when we found out we were pregnant. What worked for us is not an option for many families, but I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years and I'm quite happy.

But then something changed a few weeks ago. I became a published author. So at work functions I attend with my husband, what do I say that I do for a living? There are very few people who believe being a stay-at-home mom is a 'job.' In the traditional sense it isn't. Its, most often, something that mothers do because they choose to. But don't get me wrong, the housework, the cooking, the rearing of children, the lack of sick days (unless its the weekend and your partner is willing to shoulder the load), its a lot of work and it takes a lot of energy.

So am I really an author if 90% of my day is spent taking care of my daughter, the house, and the plethora of other tasks necessary to keep a house running? I confess, I am lucky if I get two solid hours to work. But I won't always be the mom of a young girl. Soon enough she will go to kindergarten and then, before I can orient myself, she will be leaving for college and I will have to watch her go. 

So at the end of the day, yes I am an author. And so are you. I yearn to show my daughter what it means to accomplish something so wonderful, even while raising a child. I want to show her that it is a privilege to stay at home with your children but that you don't have to sacrifice your dreams to make it happen. I want my daughter to learn to be strong and to dream and to know how to achieve those dreams.

I quite enjoy being an author. 

Hugs to all the moms,

Rachael

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Tea Talk: A Five Year Plan

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Tea Talk: A Five Year Plan

With our tea (or coffee or wine) let's talk about goals and dreams. I was recently at a large fundraiser/party for my husband's business where I was asked multiple times what I do for a living. I'm not sure why, but for some reason, we attach great meaning to what job a person does. I answered that I was an author and long story short the person in question said that most authors end in failure and I would be lucky indeed to ever be 'successful.'

As I've just published my debut novel, I don't have any grandiose ideas about immediately being a best seller. Which brings me to the five year plan. My father is fond of saying that there are 10,000 hours of work behind every 'overnight success.' Which equals (drum roll please): five years of work.

There is no better marketing strategy, for any writer, than to write the next book. Your second book will sell your first book, your third book will sell your second, and so on. For me, with only one book published, there's no reason for me to spend my days constantly marketing. If readers do find me and do enjoy The Clouds Aren't White, then they will want more. Readers want to find authors that they can spend time with, grow with, and most of all enjoy multiples books.

In 2021, I aim to have a total of five books published and to have a strong online presence with a good sized, and dedicated, following of readers. My second book is slated to be finished by the end of 2016. 

I encourage each and every one of you to formulate your own five-year plan. This doesn't mean that you stop with, I want to have X number of books finished. You must break down your end goal year by year and then month by month and then week by week, even day by day. This ensures that you not only stay on track but that you have manageable goals and you don't get overwhelmed by the magnanimity of it all.

Here's my plan for this year and finishing book #2

-Finish first draft (1st March)

-First Edit: macro, scenes, plot holes (completed 1st April)

-Send to beta readers, Edit Prose (April-May)

-Implement Beta Reader Feedback (completed 1st June)

-Micro edits: grammar, voice, transitions (completed 1st July)

-Send to agents (July-August)

-Cover artwork, interior design, and sent to editor (completed by November 1st

So there you have it, this year's schedule. I am still working on breaking down the day to day tasks. At this point I'm at a 1,000 minimum words/day quota to finish the first draft. 

A little bit of planning goes a long way.

Cheers,

Rachael

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