It used to be fun

So, it’s valentine’s week, is it? It must be, as hubby has bought two great big bunches of daffodils. He knows they are my favourite flowers. It must be because they look like golden trumpets and jazz always makes me happy.

Goodreads had suggestions for romantic reads but I didn’t suggest my novel. ” A Lesson for the Teacher” as, although I intended it to be a romance, it turned out to be more a ‘coming of age/adult tale.’ Naturally it included loves and losses but they were only part of the story and the man who was the main romantic interest wasn’t at all like the ’50 shades’ type of man. Setting it in the 1960’s helped me to include that odd mixture of innocence and daring that marked out the ‘ Swinging sixties.’ It seems so long ago.

I doubt if I’ll write an eighth novel, especially after reading “The Light Years” by Elizabeth Jane Howard. What an eye opener, and only the first of a collection! I say I don’t like historical novels but this was such a fine book I felt overwhelmed. Of course it has been dramatised and I would probably never see it but it isn’t only the story, it is also the quality of the writing that made me feel like a real amateur.

 

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A lesson for the Teacher cover

Never mind, I’ve ordered a book on editing so should be learning more of my craft soon!

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Oh, self publishing!

I used to get very angry when self published novels were dismissed as rubbish. I knew a number of authors who wrote books that were better than some traditionally published works but recently I have come across the kind of book that makes me rethink my attitude.

It is too easy to pay for your work to be printed and feel that wonderful sense of achievement when you hold it in your hands, but then it goes out into the world and the spelling errors that you missed and the gaps in the plot and the overwriting and the poor grammar are pointed out by readers and reviewers and you realise there is more to producing a book that just getting your ideas down on paper.

How many edits are enough? How many eyes saw your manuscript before it was published? How much experience have you had? Did you read it out loud? Did you show it to anyone skilled in assessing your work?

Time and again we self publishers are told to use an editor and still we think checking and proof reading it ourselves is good enough. Yet we know our characters – the reader doesn’t. We are not writing for ourselves, we are writing for an audience. It is important that they have a firm idea of the participants in the story and if we use too many they can get confused. Multiple viewpoints are irritating but so many writers use them.

After seven novels I am still learning my craft and encourage all authors to treat writing as a skill that is not naturally picked up at school but, like all skills, needs a period of apprenticeship before being confident that what you have produced is good enough to offer to the world.

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Writing Crime

Wow – how difficult is that! I’ve been reading a lot of crime stories recently and am amazed at the plots. I love watching Vera on TV and find police shows interesting but I’m not so keen on police procedural novels. I think I need to identify with the detective and when it’s a grumpy old man I’m not always on his side. It’s different if it is a maverick rebel. Robert Goddard is good at writing those.

I am really trying to watch which posts get the most views as I would like to connect with a few more people. I think giving the posts a good title is probably key. I’ll see if this one works. meanwhile, I’ve done the short story for the competition. That’s two this month.

I use the bookworm picture when I’m posting about books or writing. Is this a good idea?bookwormclipart

Writing stories

How do you find a home for your short stories? Some folk put them on a blog, some people go in for competitions and others look out for opportunities on line. Of course one could always collect them in an anthology, or try sending them to “Scribble” and a lucky few get accepted by magazines.

It can feel good to get them onto a website on line, but then one is exposed to comments, or, even worse, one may still be ignored.

I tried one this month and I’ll let you know the result. Meanwhile I have almost completed my new talk on Sussex in Fiction and will try it out on the Sea Scribes at the next meeting of our writing group. I really need to concentrate on verses for the upcoming anthology but Brexit is getting in the way. I don’t seem able to concentrate on anything else at present. I am trying to write a story for an American competition but it’s crime and I don’t know how to do it so that both sides of the pond have nothing to criticise. The use of firearms is so different that I’ll have to find another method!bookwormclipart

Competitions

Writing Magazine came yesterday and I was hoping for a new Year Planner but there wasn’t one for 2019. However, there were a host of competitions and I resolved to enter some, even if they were not free!

I have started with a poetry competition but I had to find one that had not been published so I used one old one and wrote one new one – in completely different styles. I looked at the winning poem from last year and it was freestyle but I usually write in rhyme.

I started tearing up old papers, from as far back as 2015. I’m afraid I am a terrible hoarder. Being on committees meant I had loads of minutes. I don’t know why I kept them. I had to pull out the stories I had written and the reviews I had had and shred the rest.

I have left Twitter. If I can’t use the time saved writing I’ll have to use it trying out recipes from my new book, or tearing up paper! It’s better than tearing my hair out trying to think up a new novel plot. If I can convince myself that poetry is the way to go I might cheer up. What we all need is recognition. Hey ho!youth-active-jump-happy-40815.jpeg

Building a brand

It is suggested on twitter that self publishers turn themselves into a brand. This, I suppose, means encouraging readers to discover more about the author and share in their ups and downs, find out about what made them want to write and what their writing life is like. Presumably it is supposed that the more the reader knows about the author the more inclined they will be to read their books.

I’m sure it works for some writers, especially if you are writing about a place or a lifestyle that the readers identify with, but what if your story is pure fantasy, or a crime novel set outside your own experience?

The idea of giving the readers a taste of your work is good, but I’m not sure they would want to know about the everyday family details that make up the lives of a lot of writers.

Would discussions on politics, recipes, illnesses, education and all the other things we think about help to make people want to read what we have written? Not, I suggest, if it is escapist fiction. I’m open to argument but I honestly believe the only way to find readers is to build up a following who know what to expect and look forward to your next offering. It will take years for most self publishers and, meanwhile, Julie C Round will continue to write and give talks on her writing to anyone who is ready to listen.

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Writing a talk

No more poems at present as I am researching Sussex Writers for my 2019 talks at Womens’ Institute meetings.

After talking for about two dozen times on my life and works I thought I should branch out and introduce people to other local writers, old and new but this involves reading about their lives as well as sampling their books so it is taking time. Thank goodness for the internet or it would be a much harder job.

My story for the competition has been posted and, as usual I thought of ways to improve it after it had gone. Never mind, it was a free one!

This weekend is all parties and Christmas lunches. It seems early. I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet. The weather has been unpredictable so we are beginning to hibernate. I did buy a Christmas wreath for the front door but it isn’t up yet.WP_20161214_001