WriMo Aftermath

After a few well needed days of rest, NaNoWriMo is finally over. So, did I make my fifty thousand word goal? Well, not exactly, but I’m still extremely excited about what I’ve accomplished. In previous years attempts to finish NaNoWriMo, I’ve steadily increase the amount of words I’ve written. The first year, I wrote fifteen thousand words, a good start, but still left a lot to be desired.  The second years attempt was a much better success at approximately thirty three thousand words.  This year however, I made a massive amount of improvement.

In November, 2013, I managed to write 46,383 words. I managed to get ‘oh, so close’ to the fifty thousand word goal, that I still feel immensely accomplished. A few things in particular caused me to not meet that goal though, and I’m at least glad that I recognize them. The first is due to a powerful urge to live in a comfy house and eat more than top ramen for three meals a day. In order to pay for rent, bills and food, I needed to pick up a few job hours here and there, making it more difficult to find time to write. But I did still make time to write.

The second thing that hindered my completion of the goal, is due to the way I allocated my time. Rather than meeting the approximately 1,700 words per day goal, I often prefer longer sessions of focusing on my work and writing for much longer periods of time, completing five or six thousand words in one sitting. In theory, and quite a bit during the execution, my plan worked extremely well. The plan to write all fifty thousand words in ten long days, rather than spread out over fifty days, nearly worked. I was just one long writing session from finishing my goal too.

The final thing that stumped the writing process, was realizing that, unlike my first novel “The Drive Home,” there was no way my story would be finished in only fifty thousand words. And honestly, that’s great! The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a full novel in the time frame, it was to write 50K words, but the fact I was so close and yet so far was daunting and exciting all at the same time. However, in the days prior to the competition, I’ve hit that fifty thousand word mark and I’ve got somewhere in the range of twenty five thousand words left or about eight chapters to go. Thinking about how little I have left to write, in comparison to what I’ve already written, NaNoWriMo was time well spent.

So, the last few things I have to say about the competition and what it’s helped create: Some time very soon I will have a second novel written, and no excuse to not get the hell to work on editing, polishing and finishing my completed works for the world to see. And now that the writing month is over, I can get back to creating new and hopefully intriguing content for The New Writer’s Journey, that will showcase the hell out of my novels. Hell, if I’m lucky, the site may not be “The New Writer’s Journey” for very long. Lastly, novel writing month is over and I can’t wait to do it again next year. If my progression through the years continues, writing 50K words will be a piece of cake next year, and all I have to say to that… bring it on.

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Ready, Set, Write….Again!

It’s that time of year again, folks! Time for that NaNoWriMo competition: fifty thousand (50K) words in thirty days. Now, just because I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten about my novel The Drive Home. Since I finished my first novel, I have been re-reading and editing my ass off, one cheek at a time. Every time I go back over the novel, I find a thousand things I want to change, reword, edit, manipulate, etc. So, it is definitely a challenge to make it perfect, but as any published writer will tell you, it’s nearly impossible to get your creative works “perfect.”

Hemingway once revealed that he re-wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms, thirty-nine times before he was finally satisfied with it. Now, the first time I heard this, before I actually wrote a novel, I thought that was ludicrous. Thirty-nine times!? But now that I have finished a novel, and have re-written about fifty percent of it at least ten times, I can’t help but think, only thirty-nine times? So, essentially, this reinforces my appreciation for editing, and I am still working diligently on “The Drive Home” and I am determined to get it just right. I’ve allocated a bit of time each day to read over the book and make more edits.

But, for one month only, I will focus my attention elsewhere. Where, you ask? My attention will be focused on a Novel I have tentatively called: “One Last Hunt.” This second novel of mine is  vastly different from The Drive Home and I think that’s just fantastic! I can’t simply focus my attention on one genre, one style of writing, it’s just not me. I get an inkling to do something, or a sliver of a story idea and I have to see it through to the end. Now, this new novel is pure science fiction, a genre that I fell in love with many years ago. I have had a few ideas that drew from bits and pieces of sci-fi, but I call this story “pure” sci-fi, because I want to include as many ideas from the best of science fiction. It draws inspiration from Firefly, Star Trek & Star Wars, Isaac Asimov, Mass Effect, Hitchhikers Guide, Fifth Element, Doctor Who, etc. Anything that has fueled the flames of my inspiration will be playing a part in this tale.

Without further ado, here is my first attempt at the synopsis for the novel, and it will change as I find that perfect elevator pitch. Until then, this will have to do:

“Marcus is a bounty hunter, a mercenary, and most unexpectedly, a father. Marcus has been in the business for many years, but has battled with the conflicting ideas of pursuing the largest, and most dangerous bounties; and keeping his adopted daughter, Shawna, out of harm’s way. During an unexpected visit from an old friend, Marcus and Shawna will find themselves drawn into the most dangerous and prestigious competition in the known universe. Only one competitor will be crowned the greatest hunter in the galaxy and will never need to work to earn another credit again. The victor will have everything they could possibly imagine: fame, fortune, and tech, but the climb to the top is cutthroat and paved with blood.”

Day one of NaNoWriMo started off with a bang, I knocked out a decent number of pages, and wrote this post for all of you! Is anyone else participating in National Novel Writing Month? I’d love to hear from any fellow novelists, and I’ll keep everyone updated as the month goes along. My next post will be this week and it will be the part 2 of my Top Ten Stories on Television. Alright, time to hit that 50K goal and I’ll see you at the finish line!

Write Your Own Story, Or Publish It

Over the last few months, I’ve been studying up on the art of publishing, and thinking to myself: “I hate waiting for and relying on other people to do things for me.” This thought really began to cross my mind after I started submitting my novel to publishers. I find myself checking my email every ten minutes hoping someone will send me an email reply . And don’t even get me started on weekends, when lots of companies are closed until the following Monday. Then, I can’t sit still as I wait anxiously for a response that is most likely not going to show up in my inbox. So, what does all this frustration mean?

Essentially, it means that I prefer when things are solely base on my performance. That I thrive when no one else is to blame but myself. To sum it all up, it means that I have been considering going the self publication route for my writing. Now you might be asking yourself a few questions:

First question: will I make as much money self publishing? That entirely depends on my effort and the quality of my work. If I hit the ground running and continue to market my work with my growing enthusiasm, then, I believe that I can make as much money. In addition, the royalties are usually higher. The royalties for eBooks when self publishing can, on average, net the author up to 85% of their list price.

When it comes to print books, the royalties may not be exponentially higher, but they are still much better, especially the books sold directly through amazon.com. Using their print on demand method of printing, authors don’t need to print ten-thousand copies of their book, and then find out how to sell them all. The author doesn’t even need to worry about printing at all, essentially, every time someone clicks “buy,” Amazon prints a copy and ships it to the consumer.

Second question: how can my marketing compete with that of big publishing companies? From all the author testimonials I’ve come across in my research, big publishing houses only do extensive promotion if your a previously well selling author, or someone really, really, believes in your novel. Otherwise they tend to leave the author to publicize at their own discretion. So, essentially, it’s a fairly level playing field. I’ve made a number of connections in my past and I plan on using as many as possible to help further my own goals, and maybe do a few favors to further some other friends marketing goals as well.

And the third major question is: how would I even get started? Major publishing houses have been around for nearly a century and have the market fairly well cornered. But, as I mentioned, I’ve been researching this quite a bit and there are a lot more resources available to authors on the subject, now more than ever. With the options mentioned above, I can sell my book through a number of venues and not pay a dime to get started. Through Amazon.com, I can sell a print version of my book by merely allowing Amazon to take a percentage of the sale each time a copy is sold. So, not costing me anything out of my own pocket. Additionally, if I choose to pay an additional $25, I can allow my book to be purchased wholesale by large retailers, such as Barnes & Nobles, which allows for greater distribution. When it comes to the eBook side of publishing, the two best sites I’ve found for publishing are Smashwords & Lulu. Each of these put your eBook up on on a number of sites and on all major eBook reader stores. And again, they only take a percentage of each sale, not requiring you to pay any upfront fees.

There are a few more steps in regards to self publishing that I have been working on and preparing for. I’ve written an ever growing, 15 page business plan, with market projections and production schedules. If i choose to self publish, I’ll want to make it a self publishing company, so, I’ll need to create a business name, register with the local government for tax purposes, and open a bank account to do business as that company. Websites will need to be created, contractors may need hired for work that I’m not as skilled with, such as cover design, and there are some more steps which I have been slowly working out as well. But so far, I’ve come quite a long way from anxiously waiting for someone to sift through an enormous pile of manuscripts, hoping they’ll get to mine next, to being ready to “write my own story,” so to speak.

I’ve moved on and I think I’m ready to take my future into my own hands and be responsible for my own success or failure. But anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t take kindly to failure, and that I will sweat and bleed for this opportunity, because I know it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I want to do, and if I can access a bit of my “good old fashioned Irish luck,” I may just hit the big time. That’s the end game though, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience as a self published author, about the ups and downs, success or horror stories. Don’t hold back, I can take it, and I’m more than intrigued to hear what anyone has to say!

It’s Not The Size That Counts…

Before I began writing my novel, I did a lot of research into “how long should my novel be?” What constitutes a short story? Can a novel be too short or too long?” What’s the difference between a novella and a novelette? For anyone starting to write a novel these questions can be a bit daunting, especially since there really is no exact answer for how long your book should be. That is putting it rather frankly, but it’s actually true, to a degree. So let’s break it down into a number of different categories: flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novellas, novels, and sagas / sequels. In my research I have found many definitions for each of these categories and have put together, what I feel, is a good scale to gauge story lengths by.

Now, there’s something important to mention here, and I can’t stress this enough. There is no set rule or specific length to classify your works by. Everything mentioned below is simply a guideline. Publishers may classify their book types differently than what you find here, or they may be exact, you just wont know until you work with a publisher. Sometimes they state their novel length preferences upfront, on their submission page, other times it’s a simple luck of the draw.

Additionally, there are always exceptions to the rule. Just because a certain type of book is harder to sell than others, doesn’t mean that a unique novelette wouldn’t grab a publisher’s attention with ease. So, here we go, a few guidelines to help classify your work and give you a goal to shoot for when writing.

Flash Fiction – Under 1,000 Words: Flash fiction is a type of story that is often found in magazines or publications to fill a single page. I’ve found that writer’s often tend to take on flash fiction (and short stories) as a sort of challenge. It can be difficult to write an exceptional story in under 1,000 words and still have a beginning, middle, and end. Being able to include those, and still develop a sense of character is a worthy challenge for any author. (I even plan on undertaking this challenge eventually)

Short Story – 1,000 to 7,500 Words: A short story is, obviously, short. If looking to get published, short stories can be a bit more complicated. Unless you happen to have a number of completed stories. Publishers usually aren’t looking for a single short story, only coming in under thirty pages, it’s often hard to justify the cost of publishing. A number of publications, such as magazines, newspapers, websites, and e-magazines, accept single short stories and are great ways to publish them. If, however, you have a number of short stories, that can add up to the approximate length of a novel, a number of publisher do publish compilations.

Novelettes – 7,500 to 20,000 Wrods: Novelettes are a tad easier to write than short stories or flash fiction, because you have more pages to work with. The trouble with novelettes is that they may be harder to sell to a publisher. The reason being is that they are too long to fit into a magazine, and they are too short to be published as a novel. From the research I’ve done, it seems that authors often times combine a few novelettes into a compilation. But, as stated above, there have been novelettes published by themselves. In my opinion, they’re actually perfect for a majority of modern day, on-the-go readers. A short, easy, good read that you can finish quickly and pick up a new one.

Novellas – 20,000 to 50,000 Words: Novellas are excellent for modern day readers, just like novelettes. They’re good for an easy read, but can be just as in depth as a novel. Characters can be deep, plots can be complex, but can still be finished in a couple days depending on how fast you like to read. While many publishers won’t bat an eye at a novel this short, novellas are excellent for e-books. Just like novelettes, they’re easy to pick up and put down, and reading it in your spare time on a screen just seems to work. Additionally, there have been many novellas published as standalone books, so if your story fits this category don’t try to stretch it out any longer than you need.

Novels – 50,000 to 120,000 Words: Now we get to what many writers, including myself, aim for. Novels are the easiest to publish (easy being a relative term, most accepted book length to publish, if you can get a publisher to read your book). The most recognized range of published novels would be between 70,000 and 100,000 words. As I said previously, I can’t overstate the fact that just because you’re not in that “sweet spot” doesn’t mean you won’t get your novel published. My Novel, “The Drive Home,” comes in just over that 50,000 mark. If your work is nearing the higher end of this range, you may want to consider some strict editing and cut your word count back a bit. For a first time author, or an author with little credentials, a publisher might be wary to publish anything over 100,000 to 110,000 words.

I decided on 50,000 words for my goal, because over the last couple years, I have participated in the NaNoWriMo competition. Thirty days, at least 50,000 words, that was the goal. So, that was my goal for my first novel. 50,000 words for someone who hasn’t written a full length novel before can be pretty a daunting task. When I began writing “The Drive Home,” I thought that goal was impossible. Now that I have finished, that seems like a piece of cake. During the time between finishing my novel and beginning the editing process, (“they” say you should put your novel away for two months or so, I took two weeks) I took the free time to start writing something more science fiction oriented. In that two week time period, I wrote one hundred pages, which came in just under 25,000 words. And I have only progressed through about 30% of the story line. By completing my first project, my confidence, my writing, and my speed have increased exponentially.

Epics / Sequels / Sagas – Over 120,000 Words: Novels of this length are often turned away when written by first time authors. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider separating your novel into a sequel or trilogy. Writers who create this type of novel are often well established, to the point that the publisher doesn’t really care how long your novel is, because they know it’ll do well. The most obvious and overly used example: Stephen King. If he wants to publish a novel that’s under 50,000 or over 150,000 words, his publisher will take it on faith, because he’s good at what he does. Personally, I love the idea of writing something that matches the weight of a newborn baby. A book that when you set it down on a table it shakes and lets everyone know, “Hey, I’m reading an enormous book!” But, until I make a name for myself and sell millions of copies, I can be satisfied with writing a trilogy of shorter novels, rather than a something this size.

Wow! That was a lot of information. Hopefully, this sheds some light on where certain word counts are classified. But the bottom line really is, that the story dictates the length of your novel. You don’t want to stretch something over 300 pages when it really should have only been 150 pages. The reader may get bored if you drag your story on. The opposite is true as well. Don’t upset the reader by denying them deep characters or climactic plot points, when you have enough content for a 250 page novel. Either of those scenarios could very well affect the sales of your current or future works.

That’s it. That’s your cue to start, or continue with your writing. No matter what the length, genre, or content, get it done and enjoy what you’re writing. It’ll be finished when it’s supposed to be finished and not a moment sooner.

The Raising Of The Curtain

It’s that time we’ve all been waiting for, time for me to unveil my debut novel, The Drive Home. I’ve surpassed the midway point of my 150(min) page goal and as promised, this will be the first reveal of my story. This work of fiction will be my inauguration into the world of published writers, and is a story that follows along the lines of that age-old saying, “Write what you know.” Often times I find myself writing a vast variety of fiction that is usually far from ‘realistic.’ But in order to make a connection with the audience in this novel I’ve taken names, places, conversations, and situations from everyday life and worked them into the story. Because the primary concept behind, The Drive Home, is rather out of the ordinary, I needed to find ways to bridge the gap between unorthodox and realistic. That’s where the aspects pulled from everyday life come in. “Ok, enough. What’s this story you’ve been babbling on about?” You’re right, let’s get down to it, so without further ado, the synopsis of: The Drive Home.

The Drive Home, is the story of Ben. An aspiring writer who despite a lot of opposition from friends and family, quits his job to focus on becoming a professional writer. He and his best friend Taylor travel up the west coast to visit Ben’s sick father at a hospital in Spokane, Washington. While they make the journey, Ben uses the drive to find inspiration and begin writing his first novel. Little do the two companions know that a mysterious and gruesome trail of bodies follows them all the way up the west coast. By the time the pair have a chance to realize their predicament it may be too late for either of them to save themselves or countless others.”

Well, that’s about the size of it, a bit vague I know, but I’m still trying to keep a bit of mystery and intrigue. There’s so much more to be revealed and experienced with this tale, and I look forward to us experiencing it together! I hope this sounds like something you’ll all enjoy, please spread the word and tell your friends, and remember to keep checking back for more as the writing process continues!

Who Says Unorganized Is A Bad Thing?

What type of writer am I? Am I a romantic awaiting Juliet in the pages of a book, or a serial killer lurking in the shadows of the dust cover? Do I journey beyond the stars or send readers back to a simpler time, lacking modern technology? Deciding to become a writer can be difficult, trying to decide on a writing style, a genre, or an audience can be even more difficult. How do you know just what to write about? Well, that’s where the problem comes in doesn’t it? You don’t.

When you begin writing you often times don’t know the answer to any of these questions. People will often tell you to plan out your story before you begin writing. You should decide on an audience. Then you should decide on a genre for your story and then decide just how gritty, or not, it will be. This is one train of thought that really does make a lot of sense. Usually this mind-set goes hand in hand with outlining your story, either in great detail or just a chapter breakdown. This method really does work, I’ve used it myself. The method I prefer though, is sitting down and just starting to write something, anything and eventually the story will form.

It’s a much more unorthodox method for writing but for many people all the planning and outlining doesn’t do any good, some just need let the creativity show up when it decides to. For the novel I’ve been writing, I have been doing a mixture of both. I began planning and outlining to get myself started.Wrote a few chapters that stood out in my mind. Then I hit writers block. So to get past that I just started writing, I began with character descriptions or lines I could hear them saying. Then I moved onto descriptions and impressions of locations and eventually the story pieces began to just form.

So try some different methods to generate creativity for you writing, see which ones work best for you. How do you get started writing something? Do you use one of these methods I talked about above, or do you have a different way to get the creativity flowing through your pen or pencil? I’d love to hear if one of these has worked for you, or if there is something unique that you do when writing.