Thursday, 31 October 2013

Why I am NOT doing NaNoWriMo

November. National novel writing month. The challenge: finish a book, or at least 50,000 words in a month. That’s about 1,600 words a day.

Started in 1999 in the San Francisco Bay area by freelance writer Chris Baty (yup, totally Wiki’d that one), the idea behind NaNoWriMo is to get people writing. No matter how bad the end result, at least you’ve got a first draft. You can go back and edit later if you want.

It’s a great idea, I’ll openly admit to that. If you’re scared of starting a novel because you don’t think you’ll be any good, the NaNoWriMo challenge celebrates quantity, not quality. A backwards notion? Not for writers it’s not. Quantity over quality is often the first hurdle we scribblers face.

By the way, if you think NaNoWriMo is for you, check it out here.

Me? I’m not going to do it. As great a challenge as it is, it’s not for everybody. NaNoWriMo doesn’t fit my writing or life style. With the recent release of my latest novel, Legend of the Mist, much of my time has to be dedicated to getting the word out any way that I can. On top of that, I can’t commit to writing every day (though I would absolutely drool at the opportunity to do nothing but) simply because my lifestyle is too hectic. Only a select few, relatively speaking, are able to set aside dedicated writing time each day.

If those were the only reasons, though, I still might considering jumping on the NaNoWriMo band wagon. But there is also the matter of my writing style.

I am very much a revise-and-edit-in-chunks kind of girl. I will spend a day madly hammering away at the keys and producing anywhere from 500 to 3,000 words in one sitting. But I can’t move on to the next chunk without editing first. I need to know that what I’ve hastily spewed onto the page makes sense. I need to make sure that I haven’t introduced any characters that won’t serve the story’s purpose later on, etc. etc.

Also, for me, switching between editing and writing keeps each task fresh. When I’m getting sick of revising, I’ll switch to uninhibited babbling. When that becomes tiresome, I’ll settle into some slower-paced editing.

Writing blog Creative Writing and the Crimson League seems to agree with my position: NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. They’ve written an article called Authors and National Novel Writing Month: 4 Good Reasons NOT To DoNaNoWriMo. Check the full article out for more detail, but below are their four points, and I think they are good ones. They suggest you should rethink NaNoWriMo if:

1. you will judge yourself if your draft is horrible
2. you will judge yourself if you don’t reach 50,000 words in November
3. you feel pressured to join in by everyone else who is doing it
4. you want to compete against other people or feel superior when you win and they don’t.

Okay, for me, number 3 would be the only point I can identify with, but it’s enough of a reason. As I said, NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. I know it’s not for me, and I would be bowing to online peer pressure if I decided to join.

To all of you out there who think NaNoWriMo is for you, I wish you the best of luck. It is a great way to get the writing bug going if you don’t already suffer from it (if you are a writer, then you know what I mean by suffer). But if you don’t think the challenge is quite your cup of tea, I’d say don’t feel bad.

Those are my thoughts, but what are yours? Will you be joining in the NaNoWriMo challenge? Why? How does it fit your writing style or creative ambitions? If not, why not? I’d love to hear your opinions.

Monday, 28 October 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog ...

This summer I participated in a social media seminar because, well, it was free, it was local, and I didn’t have anything else going on. I went in thinking, “okay, I’ve got this in the bag. I’m on Facebook, I have a Twitter account, I’ve set up a website for myself. I’m a pro.”

Four hours later I came out feeling a bit dazed, a bit irritated with myself and with this fast-moving online world and, above all, like a complete amateur.

The upside was that I had at least an understanding of the basic premise of this strange online world. From my random Googling about how authors – especially indie authors - can market their books I know that social media is an important part of the platform. Heck, for many of us it’s the only platform.

Unfortunately what I didn’t understand when I started out is just how involved with my social media platform I need to be. I was shocked to discover that I should be blogging at least once a week, posting on Facebook at least once every other day, and Tweeting roughly three times per day. And the hosts of the seminar were even kind enough to outline when I should be tweeting: nine (just before people settle into their daily routines), noon (when they’re copping off for lunch), and six (at the end of the day, just before they’re winding down).

Er ... okay, maybe my efforts had been piddly and unfocused up to that point (groan). But at least I learned something, and I took the message to heart. Sort of. I went home and promptly upped my twitter activity … while simultaneously letting my website and Facebook presence all but die. Oops.

I was, however, amazed by the results of my ramped-up tweeting when I saw there was an increase of traffic to both my Facebook and Web pages. It looked like people were interested to see who this Veronica Bale person was that was jumping into conversations about things like history, writing, and publishing. Crazy - people actually wanted to know who I was!

And isn’t that why I took to social media in the first place? I am a writer of fiction. I live in my cozy little world of characters and plots and better-than-the-real-world danger and intrigue. But I am also a person. There are thoughts and feelings behind each story I create. And I wanted to share that with my readers. I wanted them to see me, not just my books.

Of course the traffic to my Facebook and Web pages never found much of anything except a couple of old posts because, of course, I’d let those balls drop. Again … oops.

Since having this epiphany (which, it appears, everyone else already had years ago) I’ve decided to blog. Why? As writer, editor and publishing consultant Belinda Pollard says in her article Do authors really need a blog?, “if you plan to self-publish globally, your blog or website will become the hub of your book marketing.” And if people are coming to my page to see what I’m all about, they’re probably going to want to see more than just, “hey, check my books out.”

I’ve seen the positive effects on my visibility as an author from my activity on Twitter. I know that people have at least some interest in what I have to share. The whole reason I’m an author in the first place is because I have something to share with readers that I think they’ll enjoy. If blogging helps me reach more people with whom I can share, then so be it. I’ll find the time somewhere, somehow.

So, then, on the question “to blog or not to blog,” this amateur says, “bring it on!”

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Legend of the Mist is Here!

It’s here, it’s here …

As of this morning Legend of the Mist, my first stand-alone historical romance novel, is available on Amazon (click here to view). And as with any book release I’m a bundle of nerves right now. I’m not sure whether to be excited about the release, nervous about its reception or disappointed that it’s over. I can assure you that all three emotions are vying for top spot at present.

I’ll be releasing Legend of the Mist on KoboBooks within the week, and I’m also planning on releasing a print version through Amazon’s Create Space platform. Now there’s a scary new venture … starting to wonder what I’ve gotten myself into.

Ahead of me now is the arduous task of marketing and promoting my work. I admit that it’s one of my less favourite aspects of the indie author’s pursuit, but it’s unfortunately one of the necessary evils. That does not mean, however, that my next book will be on hold while I work on marketing and promotion. In fact, my next story is already in the works and I’m currently fleshing out the storyline. I’ll be in touch with more detail shortly.

In the coming months I’m hoping to broaden my presence within the multi-faceted social media sphere. I hope to become involved in writing blog posts more often that are about things other than mere status updates. I participated in a social media seminar this past summer, and was surprised that I’m supposed to be blogging once a week, posting on Facebook once a day and tweeting at least three times a day. (?! Talk about labour-intensive.) But that in itself is a blog post so I’ll save that thought for later. Suffice to say that I hope you’ll all see more of me in the reading and writing web community in the coming months.

In the meantime, if you happen to pick up a copy of Legend of the Mist, or if you read my Highland Loyalties series I would love to hear from you. Leave a review for me on Amazon or Kobo, stop by my Facebook page or check me out on Twitter. I always love hearing from and interacting with my readers.

That’s it for now. Take care, and lots of love to you and your families.