View from my drive home.
I try to write the best books I possibly can, and with my limited free time to devote to writing, it should be no surprise that it takes me a while to finish even a first draft. Once that’s done, the revisions and rewrites begin before I allow beta readers to see it. This flies in the face of some of the advice to indie authors these days that you should be putting out several books a year. It simply can’t be done, or at least not done well. I take writing very seriously, and rather than toss out a sloppily written novel I try to put out the best product I can. Why should I expect anyone to pay money and spend time on anything less? I do aspire to be a better writer and I’m always looking to improve.
As a writer I love to discuss the craft of writing with other writers. To that end, I participated (briefly) in an online writer’s chat on Twitter the other day. It turned out to be more of a coffee klatsch than writing talk. Questions were things like “What’s the best review you’ve ever received?” Being at work while the chat was going I was only able to participate in the first question which was “Where are you in your writing process?” Most of the rest of the participants (not all) mentioned several projects that are in various stages of writing or revision. I answered that I’m working on the sequel to my first novel. I do have other stories started, but I’m focusing most of my time on the sequel. The moderator (who has apparently heard me discussing this before) said, “Still? How long have you been working on that?” I replied that if I didn’t have a day-job, it might go faster. The mod does not have a day-job. Yes, it’s taking me a while, and I’m sorry for that to those of you who are waiting for the sequel but I have to keep the day-job as I have bills to pay and I’m not a kept woman. Add in everything that needs to be done around the house on weekends and it leaves very little time to write.
That question rankled. It’s no wonder the market is flooded with poorly written books and indies have such a terrible reputation. People are cranking out multiple books a year, but how much time and attention are they giving to any of them? Could my own book have been better? Of course, and I wish I had the money to hire a professional editor to go over it. I may yet release a revised version, now that I’ve discovered ProWritingAid. I’m dying to run the whole book through it and make it better. I can already see things I’d like to change and tighten after using that program for just a couple weeks. I expect Revenants Within to be a much stronger book.
Before self-publishing became an option, it was the norm for a writer to take six months to write a book. Now, if you don’t publish six books a year, you’re pretty much told you’re slacking. I will never be able to write at that pace. If you can, godspeed. But don’t denigrate others who don’t.
And if you’re a slow writer like me, you’re not doing it wrong. You’re doing it at your own pace, which is exactly how you should.
Wow, I registered with WP 8 years ago. Eight years. Holy smokes. I started with my Wandering Mind blog back then, mostly chronicling my bicycle adventures. That blog has lain dormant for many years now while I’ve focused on writing and Tarot (on the Dangling Pentacles Tarot blog), which admittedly has been more active recently than this.
I’m gonna throw down the gauntlet to myself and try to get the sequel to Revenants Abroad out by the end of the year. We’ll see how that goes, but it’ll be 2 years on October 31 since RA was released. Time to get a move on!
You can really embiggen this pic, I uploaded the full 6Mb file.
This is just an “info sharing” post. Indie authors (meaning self-published) have long had a very bad reputation for poorly written and poorly edited books. This is why it’s next to impossible to get brick-n-mortar bookstores to stock indie titles. In my quest to improve my own writing I’ve discovered a couple of free editing tools that can help polish your manuscript. Professional editing costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, a cost most indie authors just plain can’t afford. These are the costs publishers absorb if you’re lucky enough to land a book deal, but for indie authors the whole cost is on us for editing, cover art, marketing, and so on. Even if you’re not going to self-publish, before you fling that thing into the cosmos with hopes of landing an agent, it still needs to be as shiny and pretty as possible. The less work it needs the better your chances of acceptance.
So herewith, two online tools that can help improve your writing. There’s nothing to download.
The first one I encountered was EditMinion.
Welcome! EditMinion is a robotic copy editor to help you refine your writing by finding common mistakes. To get started, paste a chapter of writing into the box above and click Edit! Don’t paste too much or the script will stop responding. This is still very much in Beta and I”ll be adding features as I come up with them. If you have suggestions, tweet @DrWicked or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Below that it shows the text with mark-up, highlighting the potential problems.
It’s a pretty good tool for what it does. It is in beta still, and I don’t know if the developer is actively working on it, I haven’t seen any changes to it recently. It can be a good quick check for certain issues, including ‘frequently used words’ which is a problem of mine. I tend to overuse certain words and don’t even notice. I was thrilled with this thing’s ability to help me find those. It’s entirely free, and as we all know, free is a very good price.
Next, I recently heard about ProWritingAid via a comment on Anne R. Allen‘s blog. This one has both free and paid versions. If you really can’t afford to pay anything, it’s still a pretty robust tool that can help dramatically. The one-year subscription option is listed as $40, then $30/yr for a 2-year subscription, and on up to and a lifetime option for $100. I initially signed up for a free account, intending at some point to subscribe because I like to have all the bells and whistles, but within just a few days of creating the free account, I received an email with the special offer for $30/yr. I came really close to paying that, but then I saw a little graphic on the left side of the email offering it for $25/yr. See the box on the left? Almost missed it. No guarantee it’ll be offered again, but if you check out the free version, wait for the email with free ebook of “20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers.” The special offers were tacked on at the bottom. Needless to say, I took them up on the $25/yr offer.
Here’s the same sample analysis that I ran through EditMinion of a short story I’ve been working on:
You can see the analysis is much more detailed and thorough. You click each heading on the left to see the areas of the text it dinged you on. I’ve found most of the suggestions very good, and have cleaned up and tightened flabby prose by taking its advice, but sometimes it’s just a stylistic difference and I can’t remove all the occurrences of “had” it thinks I should. There’s a lot to this thing, I haven’t even had a chance to check out all the features yet. The Word and Google Docs add-ins are only available if you pay for a subscription. I haven’t added the Word add-in, and I don’t use Google Docs so I won’t be bothering with that one. But you get most of the other features even with the free version. You can save the document on their servers, export to Word or RTF format. There’s so much to this thing but I don’t want to go into more detail here and make this post even longer. Frankly I find it addictive. I love editing and cleaning up my writing and making it better. I’ve also found that when I seem to have a case of writer’s block, editing a bit can get the ideas flowing again.
Anyway, just a couple of options for those of us indies who want to make our writing the best it can be without taking out a second mortgage. And don’t get me wrong, working with a live editor who knows their schtuff is great, and they totally earn their money, but if we can’t afford it we can’t afford it. No amount of wishing is going to make that money materialize.
I didn’t know there was one! Today is the anniversary of the first publication of “Dracula” in 1897. In honor of that, here some links to fun Dracula-related things (sites, podcasts):
The Vampire Historian – World Dracula Day Mini-sode (from 2015, don’t see anything more recent)
The 1977 “Count Dracula” from the BBC, starring Louis Jourdan. One of the more faithful adaptations. Sorry, can’t find one without the subtitles. Subtitles just annoy me.
And remember, “The dead travel fast.”
Warm weather is here, and you know what that means.
Sucking up my weekends, when I’d much rather be indoors writing. I’m trying to reclaim my back yard from the blackberry brambles this year, and have finally resorted to chemical warfare. I hate using herbicides, but it’s out of control. There’s a play structure in the back that my ex-husband made for the kids when they were small that is now completely overgrown by blackberries, you can’t even see it. The deer haven’t been by in weeks, so I thought maybe it was safe to spray as long as they’re not here eating the blackberries. I wanted to get the blackberries dealt with before they flower and produce berries and (more to the point) more seeds. I still hate the idea, but it’s insane how much yard they take up.
I found this little thing growing up through the ivy. Known as “Stinky Bob” or “Herb Bob” it’s also classified as a noxious weed, just like the blackberries are. These sound much easier to get rid of, if you want to. I left it.
Here’s a shot of my redwood tree. You can see some of the blackberry bushes at the bottom, how tall they are, almost totally blocking the shed/outbuilding. It’s a big building, up on a concrete slab with electrical. Previous owners used it as a woodworking shop, apparently they built cabinets there. There’s an extra-wide door to get the stuff they built out through.
And Buster. He follows me around, meowing. I don’t know what the hell he wants.
I’m already sick of mowing.
This is just a pet peeve of mine on Twitter that I’ve yet to see it addressed by any of the “Twitter etiquette” articles I can find online. There’s something about this that just doesn’t sit right with me, and that being when someone takes every conversation public by responding to a tweet by using the “retweet” and then “quoting” it in replay, like so:
So for the sake of argument, let’s say I conduct all my Twitter conversations like this, by hitting “retweet” and quoting the other person’s tweet, even if their tweet was sent to me as an @ reply. Clearly this one was not, but I’m just using Baba Studio’s tweet as an example since they’re a business and sent that out or the world (or at least all their followers) to see. I don’t want to embarrass anyone with this, but I’m wondering how others feel about this method of interacting? I know there are no hard and fast rules, and social media platforms are still evolving, but I find this quite annoying. It’s stopped me more than once from responding to someone because I knew they would do that with my tweet to them. Sometimes you just want to have a conversation with one person or send a quick reply, and I realize it’s the web and everything is public, and if I really wanted to keep something private I’d take it to DM (Direct Message), although these are off-the-cuff conversations and don’t merit a DM anyway. I guess it feels like it depersonalizes it, as if they can’t be bothered talking to just me.
To me, it’s the equivalent of chatting with someone at a party or in the office, and everything you say to them, they turn around and yell it to everyone else or broadcast it over the PA system. By quoting the other person’s tweet they’ve effectively invited everyone else who follows them to join the conversation. Personally I’ve only used this in the past when someone was going on the attack. He or she had said something I thought was funny in response to something a newspaper had tweeted, so I quoted him/her and tweeted it. The person was horrendously offended and shocked that I would do that, and became combative and defensive, when I had meant it as a compliment because it was so pithy. I don’t recall what the comment was. I don’t know if he/she didn’t realize the tweet was public and anyone could see it. He (I’m assuming it was a male) seemed quite shocked that I could see it and demanded to know who I was. He seemed afraid of getting into a flame war with people who might disagree and seemed to hint this had happened in the past. Well, that’s the risks of tweeting, I suppose. But I digress.
So granted, all tweets are public, but it just seems like bad form to conduct all your conversations like performance art. And it’s really annoying when someone does this with a celebrity’s tweet, and quotes the celeb’s tweet in a tweet as a response, as if they know the person. Which they don’t. It strikes me as pretentious like “look who I tweeted to!”
What do you guys think?