How?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions that sum up simply as “how?” How do you write a whole novel? How do you write a series? How do you self publish? How do I book cover? Sales how!?!

Simple questions often have a complex answer that seems discouraging but shouldn’t. I can, and  have, outlined pretty much all the steps in writing a novel and/or a series and how to format for epublication. I’ve outlined how to do it for as little money as possible (though there’s no real way to do it completely for free, you have to have at least one editor and they will cost you) but still I get asked “how.”

So I’m thinking of setting up an ecourse to help people through the process, step by step though of course that brings up all kinds of new questions. Like what do you want/need to know first? Besides write the damn thing; I’m sure there’s something hopeful independent authors are really struggling with and want to know how to do right off the bat.

Let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll try to come up with something to help. Now back to work on this massive bloody novel.

 

A Vital Reminder

This last year has been a not so great time for me. I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on family (often at the expense of my writing) while my family minimizes my written work and suggests with full candor that I would be better off doing literally anything else. I might be a stone cold bitch that habitually writes about getting away with murder but that still hurts, a lot.

Thankfully other writers are always there to remind me that awful as that is, it’s also kind of normal. We all have to fight for the time and space to do that thing that no one else really understands and seems largely composed of staring at blank walls from time to time. And we’re all here to help each other out and deepen our craft as we go.

So let’s do a relink of some of the more visited posts on my blog that are full of helpful tips for other struggling Indie Authors out there.

Starting with the most important step:

Once you’ve got that you should update your series “bible” before tackling the beast that is formatting for paperback.

There you go Indies, a recap of everything that I’ve written on writing in this digital era that should prove useful to anyone looking for the information. Sign up for updates if you would like to keep abreast of anything new going on with my books or on the blog. Keep strong, keep your heads up and for the sake of the old gods’ keep writing!

Two Steps Forward and Three Back

So my monitor died some time ago and I didn’t realize how much of a ginormous hit that was to my productivity until I got it replaced and immediately felt like a weight was lifted from my writing that I’d never even dared contemplate was there before. Which should mean that I’m cranking out chapters like no one’s business – but. There’s always a but isn’t there? Just as I got close to replacing my monitor I lost large chunks of my Scivener project for the Eldritch Elysium series.

As in giant chunks of my manuscript for “Tasting Ash” were gone. Poof. Vanished into the aether.

Again.

This is the second time I’ve lost work thanks to using Dropbox coupled with Scrivener. Every now and again giant chunks of text just seem to vanish no matter what I do. Yes I was working on a different computer but I wasn’t opening the project on them both at the same time – at all – plus I lost bits of my notes from much older sections of the project (book 2 level old) which was both frustrating and utterly unacceptable.

Thankfully I have backups of my backups and now that I’m able to use the desktop again it wasn’t too hard for me to dig them out and get everything recovered. Unfortunately so frelling much was lost (that I really need) that instead of writing all kinds of awesome new stuff, I’m sitting around reentering old stuff.

Good news though, going through so many vital character notes has really helped clear away lots of my previous confusion with the manuscript for “Tasting Ash” bad new is I have parts of that to recover too and I’ve not gotten there yet.

Scrivener Series: Novel Project – Wallowing

Scrivener-Logo
This is the second installment in my Scrivener Series, which showcases how I use Scrivener to write help me write entire novel series. Be sure to check out the previous installment (Bible) or check out my writing process post for a preview of what I’m going to cover next.

Alright I’ve already mentioned that my writing process has changed, a lot, since I wrote my first novel (over the course of seven horrible years). I’ve outlined what my new process looks like and I’ve started out by showing you how to start a series bible using Scrivener. Now it’s time to look at how I use Scrivener to write each novel in the series.

First up I keep a separate Scrivener project for each series. One, project. Not a folder of projects. One single Scrivener project for the whole damn series. If you’ve experienced trying to find that one note you scribbled a scene on six months ago, or trying to find where you tucked that last bit of free writing that had some vital ideas about world building then you can understand that having a single project for all those notes and bits is a godsend.

Thanks to Scrivener I can jot down any number of scenes, notes, free writing, whatev’s, all in one document and then easily find, fix and resort the pile for later use. I can keep all my notes from novel one – with all my overly early ideas for novel four – in the same working document so that when novel four finally gets here, I’ve got all those great ideas ready to review. When I’m finally ready to compile a single novel I can export as a single .doc or .docx file and then go through it with a fine tooth comb fixing formatting (the one thing that Scrivener does not seem to get right at the moment, is format retention) before I send it off for final edits and read-throughs.

Why am I harping on Scrivener’s ability to keep all your notes and novels in a single project? Because of the first stage when I write a new novel: the wallowing.

Since I write series in two, very, different universes I find the switch over thought process to be a bit easier to achieve by taking a few days (the goal is a maximum of thirty days but sometimes it takes three times as many) to wallow in the world of the novel.

What do I mean by wallowing? I luxuriate in the world. I smell the flowers, poke the things in the dark, ask questions of all the lead characters and villains and I write short stories based on whatever part of that world is catching my fancy till it’s every bit as present as the reality I live in.

A funny thing starts to happen as I immerse myself more and more deeply in the world of the story, the novel starts to take shape and soon I’m writing more scenes for the upcoming novel than I am random shorts or character assessments. It becomes more and more pressing that I start putting all of those bits into the right order, connecting the dots, figuring out why exactly this character is going to do this or that, what in their past makes them such an ass here.

That’s when I start writing the timelines for various characters and the outlines for the new novel. Which I’ll cover in the next post.

Keep in mind this all happens in ONE Scrivener project! Usually I mark a folder as “preparations for book 1-2-3” and just stick all this stuff in there at first. I can always separate scenes and notes into different folders later but in the beginning the important part is to write and keep writing while focusing on the right universe.

Now if you’re a reader and just want to skip all the technical jargon, feel free to sign up for an email alert and I’ll just let you know when my next release is coming out.

My Writing Process

Writing

My writing process has changed. A lot.

In the beginning I started out using a few books on the art and craft of writing novels and tried to follow along – often deviating about a third of the way through their recommended process as I got the hang of their method, made changes to suit my own style and my novel’s needs. Most of those craft books aren’t really geared towards writing series either so, even in the best of times, after the first novel was finished the books were pretty much useless to me and I had to find my own way.

Now my process is a culmination of techniques I’ve used before, utilizing software that I’ve found helpful (more about that later I hope) and my own preferences. Here’s a brief rundown of the process, hopefully I’ll explain and expand on each of the sections in blog posts of their own later.

You might notice that cover design and title choice aren’t on the list, those tend to happen at various times that I haven’t really finalized yet. I try to decide the title and finish the cover as soon as possible, it helps with advertising and getting readers excited about an upcoming release.

Another thing you won’t notice on the list is an estimate on how long the novel will take or when it will be released, they vary too much. I have yet to be absolutely certain of a release date more than a week or two in advance – mostly because the second a novel is done, I put it up for sale. I can’t stand making readers wait for a release that could be out sooner but if I set a date in advance based on how things are going at the time – it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will put a hex on the works.

A Day in the Life of Crimewriter Tim Ellis

Ever have that feeling that the whole world is conspiring to keep you from writing your novel? Between bouts of sick, migraines, random power outages and downed internet I am – still – plugging away at “Toxic Ash” rather doggedly. Unfortunately that means I’ve been neglecting the blog. Fortunately Crimewriter (not to be confused with Crimefighter) Tim Ellis is here to the rescue!

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Book Review: William Strunk Jr. &E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style”

So I’ve realized that there’s a pretty big desire amongst my readers for more reviews of skill books. I’ve got quite a few of these books on the shelves, some I’ve read from cover to cover over and over again, some led me down a bad path and a very, very few have been both interesting and useful like The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual.

I’m going to correct my mistake starting today with the (in)famous “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

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