This post is part of 'WORLDS WITHIN WORLDS', a series of writings about Prunella (Ella) Smith, author, editor & reviewer, and the many worlds she inhabits: her physical reality; her online world where disgruntled author Dita stalks; the worlds of the books she edits; her dream world, and the world beneath the veil of her ordinary reality. Click here for the previous offerings in reverse order, or here for links to them in order. The Publisher's Brush-off Downward Dog is a strange name for an arrangement of the body. Bum up, head down, arms and legs straight. Imagine someone lifting up your hips ….Ssttrreeeettcchh. Ahhhh. It feels goood. I bring myself upright, stretch my spine up and arch backwards. Three times and I’m done. Pain is a great discipliner. If I don’t do my daily exercises, my back soon reminds me. So I do what the physio told me to, I strengthen my core muscles in a regime I attend to more religiously than my meditation. I walk from my studio—polished … [Read more...]
When negative reviews are kind
This post is part of, and an extension of, one I wrote for the Happy Honkers blog about when kindness looks like unkindness. When you publish a book, it goes into the public arena for review. That's part of the deal, and negative reviews are something all authors need to learn how to handle. When you ask someone for a review and they say it will be an honest review, that's what you'll get, and you have to be prepared for the results, whatever they are. If you aren't willing to get negative reviews then don't ask those whose review policy clearly states that they will publish such reviews - like me. I'm talking here only about comprehensive reviews written by professional reviewers i.e. those who know about writing. They've given you 1 or 2 stars and a review which includes all your writing faults. It's a painful shock, but don't assume that that means that the reviewer is heartless, in fact, the opposite may be true. How can you handle a negative review in a positive … [Read more...]
A change of focus – going hermit for a bit
Sometimes I focus on publicity and sometimes more on writing. It depends where I’m up to with book production. If I’m writing a first draft, that’s all I do, apart from keeping the blog going, but I’ll use posts I’ve written previously. First drafts require all my focus. I write them only when I’m inspired and that puts me on a kind of creative high where I simply can’t do anything else unless I really have to—like make dinner or sleep. Rewriting is another area that takes a lot of focus, but I can also do other aspects of my job, like marketing or formatting, at the same time. It’s actually beneficial to have space between working on the restructuring because ideas and solutions come to me when I’m not thinking about it. Editing is the same in that respect. But, even so, when doing any of these things, my focus turns away from marketing back to writing, and that’s where I am now. Stalking Shadows—the second book in theDiamondPeak series— has just gone to my last beta … [Read more...]
Watch out for over-editing.
I've read a couple of books that I thought were over-edited. One had the feel of something the publisher might have asked for 10,000 words cut out of to suit the usual less than 100,000 words. It had big gaps in the plot & character growth as if chunks of the story had been taken out. Another one had the blandness of something worked over with every rule in the book in mind. There was nothing 'wrong' with the writing if you looked at it technically, but it had no pizzazz. I remember feeling that perhaps it lost its individuality in the push for perfection. In our efforts to make our writing the best it can be, we run the risk of losing the rawness or freshness of our original vision. After years of working on something, it's easy to lose that spark under a pile of prunings. I know, because I think that's what's happened with Lethal Inheritance. To fill you in. I got an agent for my YA fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance back in 2010. She asked for some changes and the removal of … [Read more...]
Submission news & are demons finished?
My agent has finally sent email proposals to contacts at Allen & Unwin, HarperCollins and a letter submission to Harlequin Teen in New York . In the email telling me this, Debbie said, 'Harlequin Teen looks like as good a possibility as any. It is very tough at the moment and demon stories seem to be out of fashion.' Out of fashion! Sheesh, what a reason to be rejected. I replied to this by saying .. 'It might be good to point out, if anyone gives you the chance, that the demons in my story are not based on a western idea of demons with heaven & hell & angel mythology, as other demon stories are. My demons are based on the eastern view of demons as a metaphor for negative emotions. To a reader, the world in the book looks quite different to the world in other demon books.' Will any of the publishers get so far as to notice that? Or have they all just decided demons are out. They weren't when I wrote it. In fact I hadn't even read a book about demons until it was … [Read more...]
On dealing positively with feedback
I discussed some of the issues my writer friend, Laurie, raised about my manuscript in my last post. Here’s the process I used to work with and apply the rest of his feedback. I hope that sharing this will help others to work positively with any feedback they get. Oh and by the way, I didn’t have that nervous little heart flutter before I looked at Laurie’s feedback. Does that mean that ego has finally taken a back seat to the quest for excellence? Laurie said… ‘Its a really good yarn ... I got quite caught up in it. It’s inventive and new! The plot is great – always something new and exciting. The work you have done to embody meditation principles is brilliant. The characters are generally good ... and interesting. ‘I found myself very comfortable with the way Walnut explains things but had a little more difficulty with Maya’s voice. At times she becomes something of a caricature of an old wise woman. I would run against stereotype here and make her … [Read more...]
Done it – again
I finished another edit and yes, the writing is a lot better. A lot! I sorted out a few problems with changes of POV and thanks to some blogging friends, particularly Jami Gold who happened to be writing about POV changes & head hopping at the time I was looking at just that, I now feel confident that what's in there now isn't going to red flag a publisher. Today, I'm printing out the ms and posting it to a writer friend to look over with a VERY critical eye. Expect some posts on handling criticism in the near future, and that give away for the 'Light series' is on it's way too, amybe tomorrow or Saturday. If you can get me 100 friends on face book ( only 9 more needed) - they're yours. Check out Jami's blog, she writes some good stuff. … [Read more...]
Interview with Mary McDonald author of ‘No Good Deed’
I came across Mary in the comments on a post on the Fiction Groupie blog asking if people would buy self published books. Some people said they would never look at them. Mary began her comment with - As a self-pubbed author who has never been traditionally published, I guess I'm one of those some of you would never buy. Then she went on to say that her book No Good Deed was doing quite well. I checked out the book and bought it (only $3.99 on Smashwords for the ebook – I can take a risk for that). From the reviews I read, I thought it might be a candidate for an M-Award. It was and I awarded her one last week because I found the book highly moving and memorable. Here’s the blurb. Due to an unfortunate set of circumstances,Chicago photographer Mark Taylor finds himself in the incredulous position of being arrested as a homegrown terrorist and incarcerated as an enemy combatant. There's no rights, no trial--no way out. After reading it, I wanted to ask Mary some questions and I … [Read more...]