Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo Guide to Survival

I hit the halfway point of my NaNoWriMo novel yesterday. I’m still a little behind the goal for today, but I thought I would take a short break and tell you how to go about writing 50,000 words in a month the Christina G Gaudet way (aka wrong).

Step One

Go in with one idea and on Day 1 change your mind and go with something completely different. This way all of those pesky ideas that you’ve been working out in your brain become completely useless and you’ll be starting off completely blind.

Step Two

Don’t bother writing every day. Who wants to write an easy 1667 words a day when you could write 5000 words in one go every three days? It’s way more fun when you’re constantly well below that goal line on the NaNoGraph. If you were actually on par, you might not get to experience that feeling of panic every time you sit down to write.

Step Three

Plots are for losers. They just slow down the story and make it difficult for the characters to stand around doing nothing for three chapters at a time. Besides if you just keep writing, eventually a plot will emerge on its own. Either that or you’ll dig yourself into a deep hole that no amount of character killing and blowing things up can get you out of.

Step Four

Give every person in that crowded room your writing about a name and make sure that the reader needs to remember each one for later. Every Joe Blow is a main character in your story after all. Except that one guy. No one really cares about him.

Step Five

Have that one guy that no one cares about completely take over the story. Hey, maybe people will learn to care about him. And if not, you can always kill him off later.

Step Six

Just when you think you know where you’re going with the story, take a break, have a shower, go to sleep, whatever. When you get back to writing, you’ll have completely forgotten what you were doing and will have to spend a half hour trying to think of the same idea all over again.
Step Seven

Have a scene in your head which you’ve been working toward the entire story, and when you finally get there, completely change that scene so that it’s nothing like the awesomeness that you first envisioned. For example, if your two characters have been building to an amazing romantic scene, get them there and then have them fight. To the death. That’s a way better idea anyway.

 Step Eight

Know how people always say you should know how your story ends before writing the beginning? Well, in reality they are just jealous of you’re genius. You don’t have to have any idea how the story ends. It’ll end when you stop typing after the words “the end.” Who cares if anything was resolved or if the characters grew in any way. That stuff is for sissies.

Step Nine

Got a male main character? Make him sound and act like a girl, or vise-versa. You don’t want to fall into stereotypes after all. And you really don’t want people to be able to picture the character in their head as their reading. That would be too easy. Make them work to find out what your character is really like by using lots of contradictions and character traits that are never mentioned more than once.

Step Ten

When you get to the half way point of your story, make sure that you destroy everything that you’ve built up to that point with a giant explosion. You don’t need an established setting or main character. Get rid of them all, it will be like starting the book all over again!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

This year I’ve decided to join the frenzy of National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been getting no where in edits for my latest book, not because making the edits is particularly difficult, but just because I’ve been making excuses to not sit down and do it. NaNoWriMo is all about just sitting down and doing it, no matter how crappy the writing might be, and I think that’s important for me right now. Otherwise I’ll end up going another month or two or three not writing or editing anything.

For NaNoWriMo, I’ve set aside the novel that I’m editing and starting fresh. When I was deciding whether or not to attempt this crazy goal of writing 50,000 words in a month, I came to the decision that yes I would, mostly because I saw it as a way to start the sequel to Magic High. Unfortunately when I finally sat down to write yesterday evening, after putting it off all day, I realized that I needed to work on something completely different. Magic High and my new book have a similar feel to them, so I need to try refreshing my brain by writing something completely different.

Now, I’ll admit, the story that I’m going to work on isn’t completely new. I got the idea from reading one of my old story ideas I had sitting around on my computer. I’m completely reworking it and may even combine a couple of story ideas into one, so I’m not going in completely blind, but it’s also an idea that I haven’t had fresh in my mind for years. It feels new even if it isn’t.

So let the frenzy begin! 1788 words written in day one and hopefully I’ll be able to keep up the pace. Want to follow my progress or become a writing buddy? I’ve joined the site in hopes of gaining a little more incentive to finish. My name on there is cggaudet so go ahead and make me a buddy. Good luck to all you fellow writers and see you at the end of the month.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Design and Release Party

Looky looky at the new website design. As the official release quickly approaches for Magic High, (October 8th) I figured it was time to put a little magic in the website.

Talking about the official release, you might notice that it's a little bit late. As in, the book has been available for sale since the end of May 2011, and I'm finally having a release party in October 2011. There are reasons for this, and they aren't just me being lazy. One of the main reasons it's taken so long is because I was informed that having a summer release would end badly. As in no one would show up. Another reason is that I really wanted to have a release with my friend Brenda Hickey who just released her debut graphic novel In the Air. Since her book only just came back from the publisher in late August, there was no way we could do an earlier release together.

So what's happening at this release party? Well, I'm going to do a short reading from Magic High and Brenda is going to read some of In the Air while projecting the illustrations on the wall. We're going to have a draw for a copy of our books and best of all we are going to meet some potential fans. Assuming people come of course.

This will all be happening October 8th, at Timothy's World Coffee in Charlottetown, PE, from 1:30 to 3:30 or whenever we finish up. Not going to be anywhere near Charlottetown? That's alright! You can celebrate right along with us right here on my website. Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How was your first book signing?

I had my first signing today, and it went very well considering that there were no announcement and even I wasn’t sure I was doing it until the night before. So what were the steps for a happy signing event?

1)     1)Tell everyone you know and beg them all to come. My friends were very supportive and hung out around my table all night. Many of them even bought books! (Have I mentioned how awesome my friends are?)

2)     2) Have it while something else is going on in the store. As a new author, I have no real fan base (yet) so it was great that the Harry Potter party was going on to bring in a few people at the store already who were obviously interested in books about magic. Many were too young, but I did have a couple of teens eyeing the book and one girl bought it! I really hope she enjoys it.

3)     3) Bring extra copies of the book. Indigo had five copies, which all sold, so I was very happy I had brought some extras. I may actually have to order more soon, which I wasn’t expecting at all.

4)     4) Smile and don’t be afraid to sell your book to everyone who walks by. I’m kind of terrible at the second part, since I’m never sure what to say. Plus, I naturally am more likely to put myself down than talk myself up. But when you’re selling a book, you can’t be modest. I’m still working on that one.

I didn’t sell a hundred copies. I didn’t even sell every copy I had, and those that I did sell were mostly to friends. But I had a whole lot of fun, and I did better than the one copy I was expecting to sell. I can’t wait for the next event for my book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How did you get your book in bookstores?

It was surprisingly easy to get my book into stores, though this is one situation where I definitely wish I had a publisher to take care of things for me. The problem with dealing with the bookstores directly is not that they are unwilling to take your book, at least in my experience, but that you have to physically go to each store and give them the books to sell. That means that unless you’re willing to do a whole lot of traveling, it’s very difficult to have your book in stores outside of your own city or town.

There are two local stores that took copies of my book; The Bookmark, a locally owned and operated store, and Indigo, which is the big chain in Canada. They both took five copies of the book, and both reported that they would place it cover out on the shelf to attract more buyers, at least initially. I can happily say that The Bookmark did just that, and it seemed to work well. I don’t have official numbers or anything yet, but after handing over the books just over a week ago, I noticed that there was only one left on the shelf yesterday when I stopped by.
To be honest, I have no idea what happened to my books at Indigo. I happened to be in a couple of times since I left them, but I haven’t seen them on the shelves. However, they’re having a Harry Potter event tomorrow and offered for me to do a signing at the same time. There’s a good chance that since it’s a Wednesday night no one will show, but it will also be my first signing so my expectations are not high. It would be wonderful if I could sell a couple of books, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Something that I learned during the process was to bring at least five copies of the book with me when I went to speak with the managers. That way if they said yes, I could hand them over right away. Also, they wanted to see a copy of the book before agreeing, so it was just as easy to carry five copies as opposed to one.

Finally, the bookstores don’t give any money until the books are sold, and how much money they give depends on the store and the deal you make with them. Indigo wanted 45% of the profit while the Bookmark wanted 40%. This seems to be around average from what I’ve seen, though I’m sure publishers and agents could work better deals since they have stronger relations with the stores. However, they both allowed me to set the price to anything I’d like (within reason) as long as it was consistent within all of the stores the book was available.

I’ve seen my book on shelves and tomorrow I’m going to hopefully meet at least a couple potential fans. I guess that means that I’m legit, even if I am “only self-published.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

How to buy my book?

First off, the paper copy of my book is now available for purchase online. (I don't think blogger is liking links right now, so here it is for copy and paste purposes. It should also be available in soon.

Today was a day of organizing things for my book. The library doesn't really do summer releases/readings during July and August, and they are completely booked up for the fall, so I may not be able to do my release there. However, they will be purchasing a couple of copies, so the book will be available at the Confederation Centre Library in Charlottetown in a couple of weeks or so.

I was also taking the book around to a couple of local stores, and it should be available to purchase in those as well in a couple of weeks. I will make another announcement when that happens. As for the ebook copy, it should be available in most online stores including Kobo, iBookstore, etc. in the next few days.

Thank you everyone who's been so supportive of me throughout this crazy adventure. If you've read the book, I would love to see some reviews on Amazon and where ever else the book is sold. That would be a great help since most people aren't interested in purchasing a book that has no reviews.

Thank you so much!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why should you write?

 1 – When you tell people that you write, the reactions are widely varying and often hilarious. 

2 – Every so often you find someone who loves to read your work.

3 – It you don’t write, your head, or possibly other body parts, may explode. (I’m a little bit worried about my baby toe right now.)

4 – There is no better entertainment then your own imagination.

5 – It’s a good excuse to sit in a cafe and people watch.

6 – It’s a good excuse to read ridiculous and fun books. (I have to read teen romances because I need to know my market)

7 – The characters in your head are there for you when no one else can be.

8 –
Some of the most interesting people around are writers, and being one of them makes you interesting in turn. Right? Right? No? Well, at least you can talk to interesting people about a common interest.

9 – When you get caught daydreaming, you can play it off like you were plotting your book in your head, even if you really weren’t.

10 – Unlike many jobs, writing never gets boring or repetitive. If it does, you’re not doing it right.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Did I rush into self publishing?

I just read a post on Ready, Aim, Hook Me’s blog that seemed to be directed toward me. Several of the points made are very similar to what they wrote in their critique, which is why I’ve taken the blog post so personally. First, I would like to say that these women seem like very kind people. They were encouraging and polite and I really do appreciate them taking the time to read and review my work. This is not at all a response to that critique, but more an answer to a question they asked on the blog.

So what’s the rush? Why are writers pushing work that is not ready? Are we in such a hurry and blinded by possibilities that we can't see imperfections? 

Why did I "rush" to publish? Well, first I didn't. I worked on the book for over two years (actually it’s been I think 3 years now, which is a long time for a 50000 word book of this nature). There comes a time when a book has been worked to death, and that time had come for Magic High. The flaws may have been fixable with a complete rewrite of the story (again) but I felt that would have caused the story to lose what energy and charm it has. (Of course there are people who’d argue that it has none now.)

I also considered carefully over several weeks before deciding to publish and I’ve since had several months to consider my decision. I’m still generally happy with my decision, even if people consider it amateur and not ready to be published. I’ve experienced something that relatively few people in the world get a chance to. I’ve not only written a book (this was actually my third completely finished novel with several other mostly finished ones in between) but I’ve also put it out for the world to see and judge. 

I had said in my letter to reviewers that I’d only let friends and family view the piece before publishing. (They even mention this in the post, which is also why it feels directed to me.) Yes, I only had friends and family read my book. However, several of them are published authors themselves, and the others are almost all aspiring authors whom I respect greatly. In total, I believe I’ve had around 24 people read my book to some degree, including a creative writing class and editors who made a pass after reading the full. The point I was trying to make, (and I really shouldn’t have said anything in the first place), was that I had never had someone read it for no other purpose but to critique the work. If that doesn’t make sense, that’s okay because it doesn’t really make sense to me anymore either.

Obviously this book has flaws or else an editor would have been begging me to publish through them. They would have marvelled at the fact that my book was the first one ever to be completely flawless. The trick isn’t to be flawless, but instead to know whether or not your book has too many flaws to be published. I personally felt that my book was comparable to similar published books and that the main reason it wasn’t being published wasn’t the quality of the story but rather the over saturated market. Maybe I was deluding myself. It certainly feels that way after the few comments I’ve gotten back.

Finally, as I mentioned in one of my first posts, the reason why I published was because I felt that I had two choices. I could either allow my story to sit in a box never to be read by anyone beyond the people I could afford to print off copies for, or I could self publish and see what happened. I was well aware of the fact that this could be a terrible mistake for my career as an author, since I could be forever after marked as being amateur. However, I felt that the reward of having something physical to show after years of hard work outweighed the negative.

Perhaps I’ll never be a “professional” writer. Perhaps I will always be “amateur.” However, I didn’t choose this profession to become rich or famous. I hardly expect my stories to become classics. My goal is to create something that can make someone in the world smile. And I think I achieved that with Magic High.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What am I writing?

I don't much like talking about what I'm writing before I at least have a first draft done. However, since I'm working on so many things right now, perhaps it's time to discuss them each a little bit so that I can maybe figure out which one I really want to finish first.

These are all working titles and will most likely be changed before they are finished. Probably they will be changed multiple times because that's just what this business is like.

Option 1
The Box

- This is the novel I was writing for both my creative writing class as well as my writing group during the winter. I got about 31000 words written in 14 chapters, but I felt like the last few chapters had lost the energy and purpose that the first chapters had. I'm not sure where to go next with the story. Also the characters need a lot of work since the main girl feels a lot like Tab from Magic High, and the main guy remains a little personality-less to this point. However, I am a fan of the plot. Plus out of all of my options, I think this one has the strongest writing, especially after all of the critiquing it has received.

Magic High 2

- I've started and restarted this a few times now. I actually ended up using the plot I had been saving for the second book in the first one (never hold back for a second book what you can use in the first). So now I'm not entirely sure what the plot will be, if I do a second book at all. I have about 3000 words of a new story written, but I haven't really felt the desire to work on this book yet. My original plan was to work on it once I finished The Box, but that one is going a lot slower than I would like. So far I haven't come up with a strong plot for it yet. Also, there isn't much point in writing this book if I no one liked the first one.

Option 3
Wielder Kaladrin

- This is a story I started back in 2009. I got a lot written and then realized that the story had no plot. I had been moving along so well because of my love for the characters alone. I recently took another look at it and decided it might be salvageable. The writing is pretty choppy and it would need a lot of work to insert a plot, but I still love the characters and don't find them overly similar to other characters that I've written. There's also a good word count to work with, (around 43000 words) so it isn't a daunting task to get the first draft done. However, unlike with The Box, getting a second and third draft done may be excruciatingly difficult and I may never get it to a point where I'm happy with the writing.

Option 4
King's Treasure

- A very very rough name. In fact up until about 2 minutes ago it had no name at all. I shouldn't even really include this one since it is a script I started for a graphic novel. If I ever get my confidence back with my drawing that is.  However, lately I've been thinking that it might be kind of fun to turn the story into a novel instead. Much like Magic High 2, this is still in very early stages, but so far I love the characters, the plot is pretty fun and it's the only one of my stories that is high fantasy instead of urban fantasy. Also, since I'm writing it as a script for a comic book, I should be able to get the first draft done fairly quickly since the word count won't need to be anywhere near what a novel needs. Once the outline is done, I would be able to expand it into a proper novel. Not how I usually work, but it could be interesting. Generally I find that my characters get a little stale or cliche when I write the more traditional style of fantasy, so we'll have to see what happens with this one. It may be one more story thrown into my "practice" folder.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Pictures of LOL Catz for inspiration? Leave a comment. Or you know, don't. That's fine too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What am I reading?

Every author needs to be a reader first. A good book gives inspiration and helps guide your writing abilities. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time to read, but I've been trying to do just that more regularly. This weekend I finished rereading the first two books of the Princess Diaries series.

Princess Diaries and Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot

Why did I pick it up?
I read these books first when I was about 15. I don’t really remember why I picked them up other than it was about a princess and I was reading just about every YA novel the library had at the time. 

First impression
I vaguely remember being intrigued by the style. It was the first novel that I had ever read that was written as a diary. I kept my own diary at the time and I really wanted to start writing it as often as Mia does in the story. I never did, but obviously I felt an instant connection with the character.

What made me keep reading?
These books are so easy to read. Even though Cabot uses words such as “Like” and “Whatever” more often than some people might think is necessary, and she throws in a lot of pop culture references that makes the book dated, the writing feels natural. It really seems like a teenager’s diary.

What would I change?
The main character is really not very good at understanding other people’s feelings. Sometimes I just want to smack her. However that’s more of a character trait then a problem with the writing. There are points in the story where there are shopping lists and the like that can get a little boring, but it’s pretty easy to just skip over those parts, and they help make the story feel more like a notebook rather than a novel.

Final thoughts
I haven’t read the entire series yet, but I have read most of the books, including the final one which I really enjoyed. I really admire how Cabot was able to develop the character throughout the series so that she felt older and more mature by the end but was still the same person. Of course any book that I’m willing to reread is a good one. They are lots of fun and well worth the read.