Words

Hello Dear Reader,

Today I’m sharing a short piece of writing.

I have always had an unusual relationship with my muse.  Before the accident, my muse followed me around and threw story after story at me.  I struggled to keep up with the flood of movies that ran through my head and my dreams, struggled to slow the flow enough I could make a somewhat normal life and actually get all the stories down on paper.  Post concussion, there was radio silence.  It was a little scary. I spent much of the first months after my concussion worrying that my words would never return, that the damage was permanent.

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Then the words returned, and I discovered I had a word stutter (a form of aphasia where the wrong word comes out) and  phrase order issues when I write (the words are all there, all in phrases, but the phrases are out of order on the page).  Editing is a time consuming necessity and frustration because I don’t always recognize the problems.  I persist because I know those neural pathways can be built or rebuilt.  Brains are fluid and creative and I refuse to allow this accident to take away my gift.  But it is frustrating to rebuild my writing world.

So I went to a writing conference hoping to meet some local authors,  worried that the accident had broken my connection with that creative part of my brain, that the words would no longer be my gift.  And, during a writing exercise lead by my friend Kat from Dreamers Creative Writing  my muse handed me this poem.

Words
by Eli Winfield

You do not have to be good.
The words will come
Wild on the winds of your imagining
Vivid on the hopes of your heart
Heavy fruit
Falling from the branches, harvested,
pulled from the depths of your subconscious
Watered in the moment
by coffee
by wine
by laughter
by friends sitting across from you
You do not have to be good.
You only have to let go.
You only have to write.

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So, I thought I was moving, and then this happened.

I took a Marketing and Blog course for authors.

This is what I ended up with:

Fatal error: Can’t use function return value in write context in /home2/boppingbeth/public_html/wp-content/plugins/icegram/icegram.php on line 1667

I have no idea how to fix it or how to get back to something working on Eliwinfieldauthor.com. So here I am once more.  Totally frustrated with WordPress because I cannot even get into my blog dashboard to remove the plugin.

Yep, wordpress is awesome.

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New post at the blog:

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We are moving. Please don’t mind the boxes…

Son_of_a_King_coverYep, this is my moving post.

I am moving to my own ‘grown up site’ at eliwinfieldauthor.com

I am excited (and a bit terrified) all at the same time.  I have grown so much since I started this journey more than a year ago.  I hope you will come along with me as I move to a bigger space.

Come check out the new site   Join my email list and get my free story, Son of the King.  We will all miss you if you stay here.   There will be coupons (and maybe even prizes) for those already on my mailing list when the next book  The Dragons’ Court goes live September 15.

For the Kobo fans among us (and I know there are at least three of you out there) I will have all my books available at Kobo as soon as I figure out the bank details.  I will also have the books available in all formats at the new site.

In the meantime, please do not mind the boxes.

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Wow, look at this place….

Dear Reader,

Son_of_a_King_coverYou know I am moving the blog, right? This is the last (or maybe the second to last post) I will be writing here before I move everything over to my new site eliwinfieldauthor.com.

Just saying that in my out loud voice gives me a bit of a panic attack. I have to figure out how to migrate all these posts to my new site.  It can’t be that hard, right? Right. We all know how well tech and I play together.  There may be a few panicked phone calls in my future.  It is a good thing my godson loves me.

This week has been a bit of a roller coaster. I am still trying to figure out Kobo formatting.  I am still trying to get the other site set up.  I am still writing.  I went to school to find out my schedule for the year.   My schedule so far is pretty.  I have mostly end of day or beginning of day preps, and only one coverage. Of course, all this may change depending on what happens in the next three weeks.  The only thing I didn’t expect was that I do not have grade 1 Core French.   So, it is all things I have already taught, and grades I like with teaching partners who are awesome.  I have to say I am relieved.  Last year was so stressful that I am looking forward to slightly less insanity.

I got my edits back for The Dragons’ Court, book 2 in the Tales of Fairhaven.   It was fun to use google docs and read my editors’ comments and suggestions.  I need to rewrite one page, but other than that the changes are primarily cosmetic.   The best part was when my editor said ‘Oh, I am shocked!’ after reading one particularly dramatic moment.  It was exactly the effect I wanted.  We all want Dragon Cloche Socks and a tunic with thirteen jeweled dragons around the hem.

3D-Book-sm-dragons courtI am going back and forth about the cover.  Right now the cover features a piece of the Stone Table but I kind of want flaming dragons and a woman with a sword on it.  But no matter what the cover I love the story.  And this is about the story, right?

The first downer of my week was Super School.  Oh,  yes, Super School.

Even before I got it  back from my third beta reader,  I knew this draft didn’t hit the mark.   There is no hook or problem with the character on page 1.  The actual plot doesn’t ramp up until about thirty pages in which is way too late.  One of beta readers suggested I change the main character’s age because she reads older.  This actually made me feel better: my concern was how much her voice changed in tone and how much older she reads in the second half of the book (the part this beta reader did not get to). On the good side: I know what is wrong and I have a pretty good idea how to fix it,.  It will just take work.  On the bad side: I feel like I let down my beta readers, and  reworking it will take time.  I know the next draft will be better.  I have a clearer understanding of plot and character arc and drama than I did even six months ago, which is good, since my muse keeps handing me new little vignettes and toys.  I may have to start a file and throw all the vignettes and ideas into it so I just keep focusing on the things I need to finish.  At least, having all the toys scattered across the floor means I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas, right?

I  consoled myself by writing my magnet piece for my subscribers. The Son of a King tells the story of  how the family at North Watch Keep got their ability to sense the land from the Fae.  Rockton Marsh was so much fun to write.  He not your typical knight in shining armor. He is the illegitimate son of the King of Fairhaven and a sword for hire.   The story just flew off the page.   Things were going so smoothly!  I did business things like applying for ISBN numbers and signing myself up as a KoBo author.  I even planned out the beginnings of the next episode of Fairhaven (the story of Carl and his bride).  And then I tried to find a cover for  The Son of a King.

I spent nearly the whole week looking for covers.  I read about covers.  I agonized about covers.  The more I looked, the more I knew none of the pieces I was looking at were right. Combine that with the fact that I have champagne taste and no budget?

I did what I always do when  I get stuck:  first I panic, then I tell myself I cannot possibly become a professional if I am struggling with this.  And eventually I get over myself and Son_of_a_King_coverstart doing research, poking around, asking for advice and all that jazz.

There are a lot of really good articles about things to think about when designing an eBook cover.  All of them boil down to this:  Use a clear readable font.  Find an image that tells the story (or is at least generic enough in your category that it tells the reader they might like your story).  Make sure your words are visible at minuscule proportions.  Make the cover attractive, different  and riveting, but the same as your general genre so people know what to expect

I finally gave up trying to find a cover and signed myself up for a course in designing Book Covers in GIMP from UDemy.   The course was great, particularly since I have never been able to figure out any photo editing software.  This is the cover I ended up designing for my reader magnet story.  What do you think?

So dear reader, do you have any hints or tips about designing covers for books? Or doing all those author things?  Or do you have questions you would like answered about Fairhaven?  Let me know, and I will see you  next week over  at the new blog:

eliwinfieldauthor.com

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Writing writing writing

Dear Reader,

We are in the last throes of the summer, and youngest is finally able to go to the cottage around her physiotherapy appointments.  This week is a full house of appointments including a check up  with the surgeon. But after that we should be able to relax on the quiet shores of Lake Joseph and canoe around the island.  Youngest and I both agreed that this was the strangest summer on record, the first that we did not spend several weeks and weekends at the cottage with them swimming and me writing.

I have pushing myself to get as many pieces in place with the marketing  and new website as I can before school starts. That small bit of success is addictive and I want to keep going with all the things. You know: do all the things, finish all the things, fix all the things, make them all pretty!  Finish it all Now!  A lot of the new pages on the website are working and have words on them–yay!–but fixing all the things that did not work quite right has turned into the major time suck of life beyond all imagination.

I muttered at one of my friends about the evil time sucking ways of marketing and she asked me two questions:  1.  Don’t you have a nephew/neighbor/child who can make your website work?   And 2.  Why are you spending all your time marketing?  Why aren’t you writing?

This was the necessary kick in the pants to get the derriere back into the chair.  Between my quiet time hiding at my sister’s store on off hours and a huge focus today, I wrote and edited my reader magnet, a short story about Fairhaven and how the family at North Watch Keep got their awareness of the land.

If you are signed up to my email list, you will get the freebie as soon as it is available (and it should go to your choice of eReader).   New subscribers should get  the story  auto-magically once I get it all worked out.  Yes, I know.  I used that evil word: should… We shall see how smoothly I manage.  Hopefully it will go smoother than the list sign ups which was not smooth.   I am super grateful for the people who signed up, told  me they did not get the opt-in email, and then signed up again after I fixed it.  I am lucky to have such awesome readers and friends.   If all goes well tomorrow, I will have a sign up for the list on this site too.

As the summer is rapidly coming to a close, I look back and realize both how far I have come this summer and how far I have to go.  I published a book, but I didn’t go places and see people.  I have just over two weeks to stuff as many things into my days as I can while still writing.  It is a good thing Balance is not my byword.

How about you, dear reader?  Have you done anything awesome this summer?  Accomplished a dream or tried something new?  Did you read a good book while you were sitting beside the lake or on the train?  What would you like to stuff into your last two weeks of summer before we get back on the ‘school train’ for the year?

Send me those book recommendations!  I have two weeks left to read before I have to mark first.  I would love to know what was on your book list.

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Everyone wants a 3D book image, right?

3D-Book-sm-dragons courtThe next step of getting a book ready for publication (besides sending it off to people like beta readers and editors, copy editing, proof reading…) is finding or making or buying a book cover.  I don’t know if you have ever looked at the cost of book covers, but…yeah.  Apparently my ability to choose the Best (and yes, yes, dear reader, you should read that as Be$t meaning the most expensive) carries over to book covers too.  I am still in ‘Keep it Real, Sister’ territory as an author, and I was reminded yesterday by Holly Lisle that my goal is to make profit.  This means I have to spend less money than I make.

Um, right… yes, that is the sound of guilt over spending money on courses.  The courses are turning out to be very useful.  But the bill for sending youngest to university came. Let us just say, dear reader, that my desire to publish well was reinforced a great amount. It would definitely be helpful to have more pennies.  3D-Book-sm-Life and Other Strangers

On one of my Learn to Market your book boards, someone else posted a very cool link to make your own 3D cover graphic.  I used the instructions and took the cover for my short story collection  (oohhh pretty!) and make a 3D cover.  And then I used it to make the 3D graphic for the next Fairhaven novel:  The Dragon’s Court (oohhh super pretty!).

Sorry.  Apparently I am not yet over the ‘ooohhh shiny, I wrote a book and you should all buy it’ phase yet.

The ‘big picture plan’ is to release one book a month for the next few months.  The Dragon’s Court will go on ‘pre-release’ sale on September 1 when I move my blog to the new site, and Life and Other Strangers will be out the end of September.

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Dragons and Psychics and Magic, oh my

Dear Reader,

This past week has been a lot of crazy up and down.  I am still trying to juggle all the writing as a career pieces–publishing, marketing, editing, writing and more writing–along with the stuff of life: keeping the jungle in the back yard from taking over again, running youngest to physiotherapy, work, and appointments, doing housework, and attempting to get the house back to go before school.

So far, the results are mixed.  The back yard is not a ten foot high jungle like last summer; it  is only a half a wild jungle.  The house is kind of OK.  I’ve been doing things like putting in new lighting in the bathrooms, and then convincing my dad to come fix the mess I made trying to wire in the safe plugs.  The living room is full of stuff.  I tell myself this is because youngest has started to sort her things to take back to school and has nothing to do with the fact I worked my way through one and a half courses on writing and marketing (knitting the whole time), transcribed a novella and another story, made a new website and figured out how to set things up to sell my books on Kobo and iBooks.  Youngest and her stuff are my excuses and I am sticking to it.

I am pretty sure my muse is running from project to project because she cannot quite believe that I really mean I am going to keep letting her play.  She isn’t convinced even though the plan is five shorter pieces and two novels in the next year.

The novella I stuffed into the word processor is set in the same universe as the last novella about a hundred years later and has dragons,  psychics with the overlord gifts, and magic.  I started thinking about character arcs and how the characters develop through the story to a satisfying end point.  Then my Inner Hundred Pound Editor started asking those pesky why questions.  Why would the male protagonist kidnap his bride instead of asking her to come along?  Why would the dragons appear out of nowhere?  Why do I say the main characters love each other, but not show it?  Why don’t the dragons  show up at the beginning of the story?  The more questions my inner editor asked, the more I realized I needed to add scenes and change details to make the story clear and coherent.  My inner editor threw the whole timing piece out the window.

At the beginning of the week my plan looked like this:  share the novella with the editorial team on Monday.  Work through suggested edits next weekend, plan a launch for  the first week in September.  Truthfully? I have added almost 5K words to the novella in the last two days and I am not quite done. I am not sure the manuscript will manage to get to the editor by Monday.  I am still going to do my level best to ‘make it so’ but I have at least that much more to go of new stuff before I get to the edits of the work that is there now.   Since my brain will only write for so long every day the two story collections and the Cardonne episode are currently languishing as the novella takes up my muse’s play time.  It is all about balance, right?

On the marketing side, I finished Michael Hyatt’s Get Published. (excellent with a lot of great food for thought, and started on ‘Your first 10 000 readers.’    Your first 10 K Readers is about marketing in a smart, friendly way.  It is the first course of its kind I’ve found that works through the marketing of Fiction in a way I can handle.  Honestly?  There are all these people who are telling you that they can help you make lots of money writing. They  all have this amazing system that makes money without a lot of work (that they will sell you for lots of money, sometimes making me wonder if that is really how they are making their money).  The cynic in me discounts the words ‘easy and fast’ pretty quickly.

I am halfway through 10K.   I have gotten farther than I have ever gotten with setting up the things I need for marketing.  His step by step lessons are  thorough, logical and helpful.  My author website is set up,.  I created a mailing list (with a subscribe page even) and I started to work through some of the systems that need to be in place for marketing.  I even know what my sign up bonus will be for my subscribers.

This means, dear Reader, you will  soon find me over at eliwinfieldauthor.com.

In September I will blogging about writing at my own little piece of the internet universe.  If you want to watch all the changes as my author website gets set up, please come on over to  Eli Winfield Author and follow me there.  I am excited and a little bit scared.  This blog feels like home.  I don’t know if I can figure out how to migrate all my blog posts from here to there.  But my new website has a proper book shelf page and subscribe buttons and all these other awesome things.  And it is mine.

Still, my bottom line is all about story.  No matter how much I learn about marketing, about finding and connecting with readers, and writing as a career, none of it will make a difference if I don’t have any stories to sell.  Published authors, authors I admire and read and reread, have more than one book to sell.  This mean I need to do all the things to  have books available for you, dear Reader, to buy.  Which means I need to write, edit, launch, release and repeat…

There are people who make money at this crazy thing called writing.  In my first month with book 1,  I have done pretty well  all things considered.  With book 1, I did not do all the things I know that will help sell more books–like creating a proper launch, finding the right key words, having a mailing list, doing advertising, and all that jazz.  But, I still made enough to have pizza a few times a month.  With youngest becoming an engineer on my penny, I need to write and sell enough to make decent money but my bottom line is the story.

I want to write and share stories that I love.  It is fun to have others enjoy playing with my imaginary friends.  We all know my muse jumps from story to story with glee, picking up and dropping her toys across the floor faster than I can usually keep up.  I will not promise to put all the books I write in one universe.  I will never be that writer who writes forty-five books in a series with the same characters, but I will try to keep the first few in the same universe.  A hundred years apart or so, but in the same universe, with dragons and psychics and magic…

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The next phase….

What I am learning about writing is that there is always something else to do.  This is very true because I am trying to stuff creating the vast majority of my ‘author website’ development in before I get back to school and life interferes with the writing schedule.

This week,  my list is a little bit crazy in a good way.  I am trying to get through:

  • my first watch through of  Your First 10 000 readers (this course is amazing!)
  • getting a proper author website set up and going (working on this–half way…)
  • getting my subscriber list set up and going  (this!  I did this!)
  • getting my freebies ready for the subscriber list (working on typing this!)
  • getting the novella ready for the editor (um, right…)
  • updating my key words and search terms for North Watch Keep
  • making sure that my next novella has all the right key words,makes logical sense, is edited, has a pretty cover, is ready to upload….
  • set up my accounts for Kobo, and iBooks, and whatever else I need to make sure that my Auntie E. can buy my book

That is not counting all those life things like taking youngest to physiotherapy and work, weeding the garden, cleaning the house, painting, organizing the insane amount of stuff that got moved but never got unpacked and thinking about knitting.  You know, life.

Right now, I am super proud of myself because I just finished making my basic author website (under my name even!) with a sign up form.  Of course, now I get to figure out how to get all the things from here to there but I can do that.  It isn’t ready for visitors quite yet

Bottom line:  if you have not investigated ‘Your First 10000 Readers’  and you are an author that wants to have an online presence that is managed in a thoughtful way, you should really check out this course.  I’ve tried several different ways to get myself over the online presence hurdle (set up a proper website with purchase my books buttons, and a sign up/email list button) since I started trying to become a serious author.  This course is the course that got me there, and I am only half way through.

Excited cannot begin to cover it!

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Do You Struggle With Picking a Book title?

The first draft of the newest novella is done!

With the help of  Nayor, a black dragon, Anary and Flax try to stop Jentha from overrunning Fairhaven.

And the book description:

The Overlords were once called the Speakers of the Dragons but no one in Fairhaven  thinks dragons exist.  Lord Flax, General of Fairhaven, is caught between the ‘Cleansing’  of the peasants and the war with Jentha.   Now his dreams are being invaded by  Anary, a beautiful peasant with a powerful overlord gift who hears dragons.  But even with the help of Nayor, a black dragon, can Anary and Flax save Fairhaven?

The novella’s current  working title is Lord Flax’s Lady, but I am not sure if this is the right one.  Other titles I’ve come up with include The Dragon’s Court; Flax and the Dragons; Speaker for the Dragons or Anary, Sword of Justice.

Anyone have a preference?

Do any of you struggle with picking a book title?

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