Thursday, October 27, 2011

Countdown To The End

This month has given me a whole new respect for traditional publishers and all they do. Let me tell ya, it's a long list! To date, I have:

  • Applied for and received business licenses from both the state and city
  • Commissioned and received cover art
  • Written back cover copy
  • Purchased ISBNs from Bowker
  • Finished my edits, including critiques, on His Good Opinion
  • Contracted with an editor, who sent me wonderful edits
  • Incorporated said edits
  • Contacted a proofreader about "oops detection"
I still need to:

  • Record my business expenses
  • Start a business bank account
  • Start the process with Create Space
  • Get the full cover finished--back cover included
  • Format the book
And that's all on top of writing a 50,000 word rough draft of my Col. Fitzwilliam story next month for NaNoWriMo, and running the local events, and my regular day job. (I have never been so grateful for long weekends in my life--I get two in November, and they will be Godsends.)

It's been a busy month, and some of these things caused undue stress. However, it's done. My book will be published within the next month. Once I have it in my hand, it will all be worth it.

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Tips and Tricks

After, "How much should I plan?" the second most common question I get is, "How do you do it?" Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is, after all, not an every day (or every month) accomplishment for most of us. Those who are lucky enough to write full time might tell a different story, but the average Wrimo also holds either a full time job or is a full time student. Adding a novel on top of that can be daunting.

Here's the first thing to remember: You are not writing 50,000 words in one day. The daily total to stay on track is 1,667 words. That comes out to about 5-6 pages, depending on font. On a normal day, it takes me about an hour of actually writing (read: not looking at the internet) to finish the day's word count. Most of us can carve one hour out of our day to dedicate to writing.

That brings me to the second tip: Turn off your internet. You can do this in a variety of ways. On my old PC, I would actually switch the wi-fi receptor off. Now that I'm using Scrivener on my Mac, I've fallen in love with full-screen mode. It blocks everything out, including those applications down in the dock that always call out for my attention. If you need to do research, set a timer and look for the one piece of information you need before you get back to writing. Do not get sucked into the Wiki Trail!

One more thing. Writing a novel in a month means write, don't edit.  Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, puts it like this. "Make no mistake, you will be writing a lot of crap." There is no way you can write 50,000 words in 30 days and have every one be perfect. Oh, there will be some passages that just sing... but an equal amount that just suck. Do not edit! There will be time for that in December and beyond. The point of NaNoWriMo is that until you actually get the rough draft down, there is nothing to edit.

So there you have it. Of course, if you check the website, there's a whole forum devoted to little cheats you can use to reach 50K. I admit to using a few, like the no contractions rules (though since my novel is historical, I have an excuse), but here I wanted to give you some advice on how you could honestly reach 50,000 words.

One more thing: If you haven't checked in with your local region, I highly recommend it. There's nothing like meeting up with a few other crazies like-minded individuals to keep you going throughout the month.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Darcy From The Back

There are two primary weapons in the author's sales arsenal. The first is the front cover. No matter what people say, we all judge a book by its cover. If the art is unattractive, the title obscured by a strange reflective coating, or the author's name too distracting, we won't read it.

I shared the front cover of His Good Opinion with you last week--thank you for all the lovely comments! I have high hopes that it will draw readers to at least take a peek at the second weapon I have: the back cover copy.

I have struggled and struggled with this. Summarizing a novel in a few short paragraphs is never easy, but when the basic story arc is one the reader is already intimately familiar with, the task is daunting. How exactly do I change things up so it still sounds like Pride and Prejudice but gives enough of a feeling of what makes this story unique.

Here's what I finally came up with:

Though tired of Society's manipulations, Darcy never thought to be enchanted by a country maiden. Yet on a visit to rural Hertfordshire, Elizabeth Bennet captivates him. Lovely and vivacious, she is everything he is not, and everything he longs to have.

Unfortunately, her connections put her decidedly beneath him, and the improprieties he observes in her family do not win his favor. Putting her firmly out of his mind, Darcy returns to London, but Elizabeth is not so easily forgotten.

When chance throws them together, Darcy can no longer deny his love, but Elizabeth, put off by his manners, refuses him. To change her mind, he must set aside his proud ways and learn how to please a woman worthy of being pleased. It takes a serious incident for his true character to shine, and for Elizabeth to learn just how valuable is…

His Good Opinion

I like this. It's short and to the point, and focuses on the main difference my story has: the personality of Darcy himself.

What do you think? Is Darcy as appealing when viewed from the back as he was last week when you saw his face?

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pre-NaNoWriMo: There's No Wrong Way

As a long time NaNo participant and Municipal Liaison, there is one question I am asked more than any other: How should I prepare?

The answer is much more vague and postmodern than most people expect or wish. Do the kind of preparation that works for you. Just like eating a Reese's, there is no wrong way.

I personally plan every big detail of the story. I like to know exactly what's going to happen, I know this conversation I'm writing will have great significance in four or five chapters. I like to know why my characters are this way. If I try to write without a detailed plan, I crash and burn.

There are people who are the exact opposite. They use something--an image, one scene, a song--as a launchpad, and then they just push off on November 1 and write their entire novel. I have no idea how they do it. I'm a little in awe of them, to be honest.

So, those are the two major ways to prepare. If you think you might be a planner and you're looking for a bit more detail, I wrote a series  on building a novel this summer. It covers the 3 Cs of plot: Plot = Conflict that forces your Character to Change.

However you go approach NaNoWriMo, have fun, and good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Northanger Abbey Event!

We just started a Northanger Abbey event over at Indie Jane. On the blog so far we've got a review of There Must Be Murder by Margaret Sullivan, with a guest blog post from her on Wednesday. If you're not familiar with her wit, you should also be reading her own blog, Austenblog.

Next week, I'll review Nachtsturm Castle by Emily C.A. Snyder on Monday, followed by a guest post from her. She blogs over at O Beauty Unattempted, often about her Austen related works, or about her theater work.

We're also halfway through our group read of Northanger Abbey, and you're more than welcome to join in. Discussion questions are posted every week in the forums.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Cover is DIMH Approved

"...Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report... The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening..."

Pride and Prejudice, chapter 3

When I started decided to go indie last spring, cover art was at the top of my concerns. (I've since learned there are other things far more stressful and less pleasant, but that's a post for a different time.) Despite all we say, people do judge books by their covers, and I want His Good Opinion to jump off the virtual bookshelf and scream, "Pick me, pick me!"  

Conversation between me and DIMH*: 
DIMH:  That shows a shocking lack of decorum.
Me: You'd better get used to it, Darcy.
DIMH: I beg your pardon?
Me: You're #hotdarcy. The ladies will be throwing themselves at you.
DIMH: ...

Thanks to some stellar picture finding by Jessica and the amazing graphic design skills of her husband, I now present #hotdarcy, in the flesh:

*DIMH: Darcy In My Head

His Good Opinion can be purchased from AmazonBarnes and NobleSmashwordsAmazon UKAmazon DE, and Amazon FR

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Caroline Bingley Is a Great Character for a Sequel

Austenesque author Jennifer Becton joins us today. Her latest book, Caroline Bingley, left some Janeites wondering--why write about Miss Bingley? (You can see my review on Indiejane.)

Top 5 Reasons Caroline Bingley Is a Great Character for a Sequel

I hear what you’re thinking: Caroline Bingley as the hero of her own Pride and Prejudice sequel? Jennifer, what are you smoking? She’s horrible! Just think of what she said to Lizzy and how she treated Jane. Why should anyone want to read a book about her?

Well, I’ll tell you my top 5 reasons for deciding to write about dear, sweet Caroline, and you can decide if you want to read a book about her.

5. Caroline speaks her mind. Sure, she may not always say the nicest things, but at least she is willing to make her opinions known. In Elizabeth Bennet, we find pert opinions to be a benefit. In Caroline, not so much. Caroline was happy to speak negatively of the Bennet’s vulgar relations and on many other similar subjects of decorum and dress, but in reality, her opinions on wealth and status were not dissimilar to those held by many people in the Regency period. She was an outspoken product of her time and social influences.

4. Caroline is funny. Consider her attempts to woo Mr. Darcy while he demonstrates his letter-writing prowess: “You write uncommonly fast,” “I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend one for you. I mend pens remarkably well,” and “Do you always write such charming long letters to [Georgiana], Mr. Darcy?” (Austen, P&P, ch. 10). Okay, so she may not be intentionally funny, but that is comic gold!

3. Caroline is complex. Caroline is “of a respectable family in the north of England; a circumstance more deeply impressed on [her memory] than that [her] brother’s fortune and [her] own had been acquired by trade” (Austen, P&P, ch. 4). Caroline has a secret. She is a wannabe. She may have money, but it was not gained through socially acceptable channels, and she is trying to hide her lowly past. That’s conflict and it makes for good reading and interesting character development.

2. Caroline is flawed. Mr. Darcy and Caroline were very much alike when they were introduced in Pride and Prejudice: “Darcy was continually giving offense,” and he said many unkind things about Elizabeth’s family and relations. He even participated in the plan to separate Jane and Bingley. However, he mended his ways. Caroline did many of the same things, but she never saw the error of her ways. Caroline has lots of room to grow and overcome her flaws just as Darcy did.

1. Caroline doesn’t mess around. She acts. She may not always do the right thing, but at least she is doing something. She does what she believes is best for her family. There is no dithering or whining. She sees a need and she acts upon it. That is just what we love in a heroine.

So Caroline Bingley may not be the most obvious choice for a heroine, especially because her goals in Pride and Prejudice were in direct conflict with Elizabeth’s. She was the antagonist, but not a true villainess who was out plotting her opponent’s destruction. She just wanted what she wanted, and she tried to make her desires come to fruition. She failed in all ways.

Did Caroline learn from her mistakes? Did she end up marrying a stuffy, old aristocrat? Or did she learn the joys of love?

If you’d like to check out my view on her future, Caroline Bingley is available in ebook format at Amazon, BN, and Smashwords. The paperback will be available soon, but you can preorder a signed copy at my website.

Nancy: There is also a giveaway running at Indiejane that ends today. Whether you purchase a copy or win one, this is a sequel to read and re-read.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why I Do NaNoWriMo

I have participated in National Novel Writing Month every year since 2003. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a crazy attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. There are no judges; there are no prizes; it is the biggest un-contest of them all.

So why bother? Why spend thirty days slaving over something no one will see but myself?

I believe the self-challenge is the key to NaNo's success. We all have things in life we would like to do, but oftentimes they remain empty dreams. NaNoWriMo comes with an international audience. People from around the world watch to see if you actually complete your novel. At the same time, you watch them and cheer them on. It is, in fact, the world's largest accountability group.

I wrote my first stories when I was in elementary school. With the encouragement of my middle school English teacher, I started an historical romance series. It was then I decided I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up. However, I approached this as if it were some kind of airy, theoretical future. I wrote fun stories for my friends, and, when pressed, I claimed these were practice for my "real writing."

NaNoWriMo taught me to take my writing seriously. When I told people I was going to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, all of a sudden I had a deadline. The theoretical future was now.

I won that first year. Even though the 50,000 words became 24,000 upon editing, I still look back on it as the turning point in my career as a writer. Since then I have had three false starts and written four more novels. Three years ago, I wrote the start of His Good Opinion, and you all know what that led to.

This year will be my ninth NaNoWriMo, and it will also be a first: it will be the first year that I attempt to do publish one book while writing another. I know, I know. If 50,000 words this crazy then surely adding anything to that is insane.  Why am I doing this to myself? That's just how the timing worked out--at least, that's what I tell people. However, there is another secret part of me which simply wants to see if I can. And that, my friends, is what National Novel Writing Month is all about.

PS: Come find me on!