Beginnings

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In my previous post, I mentioned I’m not the greatest reader because my attention span is limited and I’m a busy person. I set down many books because they trip me up and slow me down, or just plain confuse me.

First and foremost, I don’t want to be bored by a book. I could attribute this to living in an age of instant gratification and movies that are POW! right in your face, non-stop action. Books should be the same, right? I just want to be entertained. That’s why I read.

Other things also cause me to set down a book. In the first chapter, I look for these things that will trip me up. I have personal problems about prologues, so all of those books are out. Too many characters and too many people talking can really throw me. I also like having the scene/setting set up so I know where we are, what world is this? Who is the main character? I want to know the basic setting, but for it to be exciting enough to keep me reading on.

These are a few things that trip me up at the beginning of a novel. If I’m not getting it right away, I’m not going to keep trying to get it throughout the rest of the book.

Do you have things that trip you up when you rest a novel? Or am I just being too particular and missing out on some great books?

Conducting Marketing Research on Amazon

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This week I’m going to talk about how I am doing research on what makes a successful novel, in my opinion, by looking at what works and what doesn’t. Also, taking an overall view of my approach to novel writing and getting published in today’s market. It’s my way of procrastinating on my WIP, but gaining as a writer as a whole.

I conduct marketing research on Amazon. I have a smartphone with a Kindle app so it is convenient and easy for me to grab books off Amazon and read them on my phone.

Before I go further on this subject, a truth must be told: I’m a terrible reader. I’m very picky and if a “rule” is broken, I’m done. I rarely get through an entire book. I’ll set them down halfway through if I lose interest. I barely get through page one of most books.

Four purposes of marketing research, my new rule is to give a book one chapter. If I’m not captured by then, I set the book down and move on. Also, I analyze why I stopped reading the book and not make those mistakes myself.

Why I can’t finish a book and am super picky? Because I’m a busy momma and writer with minimal free time in my day, and a book I read better be worth it! So I’m ruthless. The reasons I throw aside a book might not be valid for other readers. To each their own, I say!

My research is done by grabbing the FREE books off of Amazon and giving them their one chapter. I also look at their book dedications, promotional tactics, subject matter, and writing style. One could do this at your library too. It’s an inexpensive way to gather info on the current market. I don’t know what will come of my research, but I’m taking note.

What makes you set a book aside? Have you conducted marketing research and what approach did you take?

Novel Beginnings

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Starting a novel can be a daunting task. There are many approachs to take. It would help to plan out the entire novel and all the characters and plot twists. My experience has been backwards. I’m a pantser. I’ve winged it for most of my novels. The story doesn’t reveal itself until midstream and then I have to go back and fix the beginning. I’ve made rookie mistakes in my current novel: the first three pages are all narrative backstory, there’s no action, I just tell how my character got to be where she is when the story begins.

How I’m fixing this: planning. I have to pull up my sleeves and look at the whole picture of my story. What elements will draw the reader in and keep them intrigued to read on? To gradually show who my character is through their actions and the way they view the world around them. It’s so much easier to just tell everything, it takes a bit more craft to create an engaging story that people will enjoy and want to read!

I’ll keep editing. I’ll keep learning and reading. I’ll keep letting people read my work and give advice. I’ll keep making it better. Writing is a journey. A long one.

How do you approach your novel beginnings?

To My 4 Year Old on His Birthday

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Today my son turns four. How he got so old? I don’t know. Guess it means I’m getting old too. He’s come so far in four years. I remember my sweet baby boy. How handsome he was. Innocent. Perfect. Even with his little flaws, he’s my baby. Holding him for the first time was the most incredible thing I’ve experienced. And first baby I ever held. It just was right. Meant to be. I was a single momma at the time, but I had lots of support from my folks and things were good and safe.

He started growing up. Now he’s in preschool learning to handle life and social interactions. He’s smart. I say that because he can prove it! Teaching him is fun. We read that Dr. Seuss book “Hop on Pop” — the best learning to read book ever! He gets so proud to get the words and read through pages before having to stop to ask for help. Each day he makes more progress. Last time we read, I gave him a high five…He misses my hands and slaps my face. I should’ve got that on camera!

He’s a funny kid. Such a sense of humor. Oh and he repeats so much I say and do. Not always a great thing. He has no concept of personal space. He’s always in my face, climbing on my back, having to follow me around, and is sad to see me go. I love that he loves his momma, but have to teach coping skills too. Overall he’s a great kid and a typical four year old little guy.

Happy Birthday to my boy!

Does anyone out there have advice for a child’s fourth year? What to expect?

Stuck in Editing Mode

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I spend more time editing and revising than anything else. Only recently have I begun to actually write forward in my story. Actually putting pen to paper and writing NEW stuff. It’s been so long, I forgot how hard it is to actually come up with new things. At first I thought my flow was great! But two chapters in, I started having my doubts. What if I was going the wrong way? What if all what I’d written was trash? What if I lost my writing skills because all I’ve done is edit for last couple years?

I had to take a step back and look at my story as a whole. Plot my way through some of the story lines and how the characters actually fit into the story. I had to work at it. And now my flow is back and I’m determined to finish the novel.

It is hard to not go back and edit now. I want to. I’ve made changes to the plot and should fix them! But, I’m afraid I’ll lose my steam. I must go forward in the story.

In a sense, this is Nanowrimo. Getting the story down quickly. Go back and edit later.

Do you get stuck in Edit Mode?

6 Aspects of Being a Novel Writer

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Being a novel writer has it’s pros and cons. Here are a few. Add to the list if you please!

1) No guarantees on ever making a penny with your writing. The money you make may never amount to the time spent working on your WIP.

2) Telling people you are a writer who doesn’t have anything published, and non-writers can’t understand why you haven’t published yet. Having to explain why, and they still don’t get it. The reasons being simply I’m not ready to publish. I don’t have a piece ready for publication. Period.

3) Having to pay bills by doing a day job you don’t enjoy because you haven’t made money from your writing passion, thus leaving you unfulfilled, aimless, and ________ (that’s for you to fill in).

4) Spending all your waking hours plotting, scheming, analyzing, writing, editing, brainstorming, etc. about your novel. Consequently, not doing other things… Or when you do those other things you feel like you should be working on your story.

5) Having copious amounts of either “I’m the best writer ever!” or “I’m the worst writer ever.”

6) Knowing even though you are broke, working a job you don’t enjoy, and being cursed by a story that must be told, you still can’t imagine the world any other way than you writing that novel. You are compelled to do so and nothing will stop you.

So here’s to all the angst-filled writers out there! I, too, feel the pains and joys of novel writing.