Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Editing

On my first run through of Banners I've cut 21,000 words. Yikes! Taht's a lot of words, but I'm not done yet. I'm half way down the list of  "unnecessary words" and taking out almost every one except where the sense is altered. So often removal of the word means nothing is altered, which is the true mark of an amateur writer. I console myself with the thought that I wrote this at least fifteen years ago, maybe even longer than that. At the writers' meeting on Monday I recevied various suggestions - make it two books being the one I've given the most thought. These days the average word count seems to be 80,000-100,000 and at 147,000 Banners was way too long. Still haven't decided, but the way the word count is whittling down, I don't think I will need to divide the book. Other suggestions were to revamp the whole thing - title, cover and interior, so now I'm scratching my head about new titles. Incorporating the words "duke" or "you, me and us" won't quite work for something set in 1034AD. 

My worst fault was adjectives, over describing, and trying to report every little action. If I remember correctly I used "laugh" 141 times, and removed most of them, so  when I read through again I'll find my characters a serious lot who never smile. "Turned" is not on my list of unnecessary words, but I think it should be and I shall certainly add it. Many sentences were pedestrian, often beginning with a pronoun or name and some were so close to repetition that I removed them. Editing teaches an author a lot about writing. Those authors who rely on an editor to smarten their work - do they learn more easily when someone tells them what to add or remove? I suspect that doing it yourself is the more effective process.  


Once I've completed the unneccessary word list, it will be time to read it through and see if I've left any glaring holes which will need a newpiece of writing. I also need to conside if the story hangs together as it should.  I thought I had omitted to mention the king's death, but yesterday found the scene where his death is reported, so that worry has gone. It is such a long time since I worked on this story that it feels quite new and a little unfamiliar. An odd feeling to have when I wrote it!




Friday, 21 April 2017

Life

Editing can get tedious. I know I'm reaching that point because I find all sorts of excuses  not to knuckle down to it - even though I know I'm almost finished Banners. There's no chance of me touching it before I take Tim for a walk, and then I must have a coffee. Then I find I've drifted off onto checking my blog stats, my Kindle stats, and then collecting info before I have a look at the Nielsen website. Doing this, I've discovered that I have the same ISBN for Abduction of the Scots Queen on the Kindle version and the print copy. Not too sure what to do about it. I suppose the easiest thing would be to assign another to the Kindle copy, or to remove it completely. 

I actually received a tweet from Peter May yesterday. I had read The Critic and couldn't see why the last few lines of the book told me no one knew who killed Braucol the puppy and almost killed Enzo MacLeod. "He's still out there." Had my copy a chapter missing? So I tweeted him, and he tells me the answer comes in Book 6.  Nice of him to respond, but I'm not sure I like the ploy - I'd rather have the answers without reading another two books!

The weather this morning was glorious for  our walk.Some of the trees are green now and the grass has been growing for a week or so. Now it is splattered with dandelions and everything looks wonderful. Since I got home the sky has clouded over and the sunshine has disappeared, though we're not quite at the dismal state we were a few days ago - see pic!


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

First re-draft

Pretty soon I shall be at the end of my first re-draft of Banners of Alba. Then it will be time for a read through to see if it makes logical sense and the transitions are smooth. At that point it will probably be time to decide where I am going to make further cuts to bring the story down to 100,000 or less ( if I can). 

Have I begun the story in the best place? 
Have I made motivation clear? 
Have I shown their loves, their hates, their faults? 
Why things happen? (Do I need to do this? should it not be clear without that?)
Does each scene make a point? 
Does something important change? If not, should I cut the scene?
Have I conveyed necessary info in narration?
Can I lose secondary characters?

After all that, I'll need to go through and check for those terrible habit words - the ones that keep cropping up but are really not needed.


Editing is hard work. I can only do it in snatches before my eyelids begin to droop.

Monday, 17 April 2017

How am I doing?

I’ve spent several hours collating stats only to come to the conclusion that I cannot compare like with like due to the many changes Amazon have made in the last few years. 

In 2011 books were sold and we authors received a royalty. In December of that year, the first change appeared - books were either sold or borrowed. By the end of June 2014 we had the introduction of KU/KOLL units. I understood that KU stood for Kindle Unlimited, but I was never sure what KOLL stood for. (Now I know it is Kindle Owners Lending Library)

By July 2015 we saw the introduction of “Net Units Sold or KENP Eead.” Otherwise explained as:  Net Units Sold or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) Read. According to Amazon people bought books but never read them, so this was an attempt to pay only on pages read in an effort, so they said, to weed out the dross that was self-published. 

When KU came in, KENP made some kind of sense. Members of KU didn't buy the book, but "borrowed" it, so no royalty accrued to authors. KENP means that for every page read the author is paid a tiny amount, something like 0.0016 of a penny. On a 400 page book that would amount to 64p. It was as much, sometimes more, than the original royalty payment on low-priced fiction. 


So far, KENP Read is still holding. The only way I can see that I might be able to tell if I am doing better or worse is by tracking the money. Is the money that comes to me via KENP pages read better, worse or equivalent to my payments back in 2011? Who knows? Looks like another few hours doing stats. Even then,  other things have moved and changed since those days, so I won’t ever be certain whatever the stats tell me.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Broadchurch 3

It may be that I'm out of step with many, but I am not enamoured of Broadchurch 3. Apart from the police duo and Beth Latimer there isn't a character to really like. They're all slightly odd embittered people, many of them up to suspicious activities. As snippets of how a major incident affects all the people within the community this series is  puzzling. Unless the underlying theme is rape in all its manifestations, the various snippets we get - such as Hardy's daughter's problem - become distractions. Yes, it may be telling that a policeman's daughter is silly enough to make pictures of herself available and the male teenagers seem obsessed with catching porn on their computers - and yes, the policewoman's son is guilty as hell - but is this a reflection on society in general, or the fact that even police personnel don't take note of what their offspring are doing? Computer porn certainly seems rampant in Broadchurch, with Trish's husband and nearly every other male involved to some degree.

 I'm not even sure that Trish the victim is quite what she seems, and there are so many characters who could have been the perpetrator of the crime that it seems silly to try and guess, much less work it out. With so many possibilities, the rug could be pulled from under our feet at any time. We may not have even "met" the rapist. Now that other ladies have come forward with complaints, the rapist may not be a Broadchurch inhabitant at all.

While the acting is very good, the weakness (for me) is the storyline. I think the only way this series can conclude is if the rapist actually confesses and tells all, because there doesn't seem to be any route of discovery otherwise. Almost everything could be a red herring, or it could be a real clue. I think I will be glad to have it all sorted on Monday night.




Monday, 10 April 2017

Writing news

I think I’m missing a trick here, for rarely do I mention my books on my blog. I hope everyone finds the links to the book pages and leave it at that, but maybe I should do more. As I’ve said, I’m re-editing Banners of Alba, which I published ten years ago in the US. It astonishes me to see how wordy I was back then, and I’m desperately trying to edit 147,000 words down to something closer to 100,000. Currently I have 100 pages to go on a first run through and I’ve “lost” 10,000 words. Still room for lots more to go.


I’m experimenting with shorter chapters, too. In many cases I am attempting to keep a chapter to one scene, or two scenes at best and I’d prefer it if the characters remained the same. In order to accomplish this I may need to do some re-jigging, place scenes in a slightly different order, but it will all be for the best. The reason for this? It saves skipping from one POV to another too often

Would the pic on the right make a good new cover? 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

What I should be doing

This good weather is doing nothing for my writing. It is so tempting to be out with the sun on my back that nothing, absolutely nothing is getting done as far as editing Banners of Alba is concerned. Nor am I getting much promotion done for the simple reason that by the time I do come indoors I am so tired with the fresh air and activity that I slump in front of the tv and watch all the stuff I recorded over the last few days. I am also romping through L J Ross's books about DCI Ryan all set in the north east around Durham and Newcastle. 

I should be promoting The Matfen Affair, which became available on Kindle mid February for the princely sum of £1.20. It is a happy tale of Leigh Fenwick, who travels to Matfen Grange  to be bridesmaid to her cousin Lucy and encounters a ghost. 



https://tinyurl.com/z246enk

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Wasted journey

A freind has recommended L J Ross, who writes crime stories set in our local area. So I tried the first, Holy Island, and enjoyed it.  As luck would have it, the day I finished reading, an e-mail from my local bookshop informed me that the author would be speaking in Corbridge on 27th April.  I drove into Corbridge yesterday morning to get tickets only to be told they were sold out.

Wasted journey, but we did have a lovely walk with a super-excited dog through the east woods along the river bank. Everything is so green it is amazing. The hawthorn is in flower, little white star flowers against the black branches, cowslips poking up through the grass. The river is running fast, but not in flood. If I walk in the other direction, I walk around fields where rapeseed is coming into flower and the ripe musky smell is faint as yet.

I also finished a Jack Reacher novel yesterday night. One Shot, about a Russian gang setting up a sniper. A good, nicely-paced thriller, and of course Reacher wins and walks off alone into the sunset. That makes three good books in a row if I count  Rankin's Even the dogs in the Wild in the trio. Long may it continue, Seems ages since I read a really good historical.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

It's all change

It's all change in the Black household this weekend. DH is back from Oz after five weeks away, we picked up a new car last night and I did the grocery shopping this morning. I walked out of the store, shopping complete, at 9am, which I must admit, is a first and may never happen again.

I've discovered a pet hate this morning. People who stand at the checkout and bag every item and load it into their trolley then - when all is done and the cashier is waiting, start rummaging in their capacious handbags for the credit card with which to pay the bill. Sometimes it takes ages. Why not have it ready, hand it to the cashier and then carry on bagging your goods? That way the cashier's time is not wasted and the queue moves a hell of a lot faster. This morning the person did not budge until she had put the card in her purse, zipped her handbag and got the strap to exactly the right position before she moved. Deliberate obstruction, I feel.

I bought a book this morning. A Lee Child book. I might have bought a second title since it was part of an offer - 2 for £7. Unfortunately my view of a third of the rack was blocked by a member of staff with two wire cage things  he was unpacking. So Tesco lost a sale there because of staff thoughtlessness. It isnt often I buy a real book these days, but my forays into Kindle purchases have been dire lately.Am I getting harder to please? Tv is also dire at the moment. Not much I want to waste my time watching. Thank goodness for re-runs on the Drama Channel, that's all I can say.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Could this be summer?

A glorious day - 21 degrees in  the garden, which faces full south. Tim and I have been out for a lovely walk on the north side of the river up the hill behind Ovingham. It is uphill, but steady and follows the edges of the fields which this season are sprouting sprouts (I *think* they will be sprouts.) It is in full sun, too and it is fairly dry except for the odd muddy patch where water drains off the fields. Birds are singing, the trees are showing a hint of green and we had it all to ourselves. Passed one couple walking their two dogs on the way back down to the field gate and no one else in sight. Unless people have a dog, they don't seem to venture out much these days. 

It was like this yesterday, too. Long may it continue, but I expect it won't, and if it did we'd be in drought condition by July. Nothing is perfect and we are lucky to live in this temperate climate where we don't live in fear of bush fires, dust bowls, avalanches, floods and tsunamies, not to mention volcanic eruptions and days and days of snow blizzards. We get changeable weather, sure, but it is (usually) incovenient rather than deadly.

Now, back to editing. Didn't do any at all yesterday, and feel guilty. 


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Grey days

This perfectly illustrates the weather today. After heavy rain all evening - and all night, for all I know - I did not take Tim for his walk on the fields this morning. They were back to a muddy quagmire yesterday, and today I'd be likely to land on my backside in six inches of mud and water. We made do with a walk on pavements, which is good for wearing down his claws. He enjoys the doggy smells  on every fence post, tree, etc.

The trees are starting to flush with all the shades of green and brown that indicate new leaf growth, and down in the valley by the river hawthorn blossom looms out of the gloom like a white ghost. Birds are chasing each other round the garden but I don't think we have any frogspawn yet. All we want is some decent weather.

Editing is continuing. As yet I don't have an idea for a new Affair title, but one will come if I let it percolate around while I'm editing. Not certain I will  bother doing a paperback version. Sales are low, presumably because of the high price (plus postage) on Createspace copies. Lovely as it is to hold one's book in one's hands, I think I'll stick to Kindle versions.






Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Fresh air and editing

Editing, I am tired of thee! 
I like it in small doses, but when I opened Banners of Alba I saw with horror that it was 147,000 words in total. (Remember I wrote this about 15 years ago and published it 10 years ago.) I'm a third of the way through and down to 144,000, but as fast as I take some out, I add some in. Let's hope I can cut more from the next  chunks. I've done two good stints today and now deserve the glass of white wine that is waiting for me downstairs. I like to break the sessions up because my editing eyes fails if I do too long in one go. I end up reading instead of editing.

Spring is hovering around with daffodils in flower and catkins dancing on the wind. The frogs are back in the pond, all four of them this time and Tim is fascinated. I don't know if he's seen them yet, but he hears them and the splash as they disappear from his view. Today neighbours have been cutting their lawns, and the fields are greening up nicely. Now if only the 45 mph winds would die down, we could have a lovely time out in the fresh air.


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lowering book prices

My experiment with lowering prices of my self-published books was interesting and in general, successful. There was an instant response and while I cannot claim to be racing up the sales charts, my figures have gone up quite nicely. Lowering the price has also had an effect on KENP pages for all of my titles.

On the other hand, I did not simply change the prices and sit back to observe what happened; I did a few tweets announcing the lower prices, and made a determined effort to tweet one or the other of my titles two or three times a day. But that’s hardly what might be called high profile marketing or promotion.

It was around this time that I stopped sending out full cover pics, but made some small banners that sit comfortably on Twitter and Facebook without hogging the whole screen. I like making them, and like how they look on screen.

I suppose it was lucky that around this time I brought out a new book, The Matfen Affair and probably that spurred some interest.


I researched some tweet hashtags to widen my promotion activity, and checked my blog pages and Amazon Author Central to keep my titles and biography up to date. Now I need to check and see if yahoo groups are still working as they used to. My impression is that they are not, but I’m wondering what has taken over instead of them? Maybe it is time I was on Instagram, but would I have time for writing?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Banners and book promo

My watch tells me it is 29th February, but I know it is the 1st March. I shall struggle for ages to alter my watch. It is one of the things I happily hand over to dh, who manages it with no trouble whatsoever, but for me, it is like those child-proof pill bottles and  every other kitchen and bathroom appliance that employs such caps and tops. No child is going to get into them, and neither are many women and men who don't have the requisite finger strength. Old people don't have a hope. Do the manufacturers and designers ever think of this?

It is a bright frosty morning outside, with a sunshine and a blue sky, so the moment my post-shower hair is dry enough, I shall head for the great outdoors. Then I shall be concentrating on editing Banners of Alba when I return. I was surprised to see it was published ten years ago at 147,000 words, so now I'm aiming to bring it down by forty or fifty thousand. Quite a task, and much editing as I go. Reassuring in a way, in that I can so quickly see where I need to make alterations, which  proves I must have learned something in the last decade.

I'm finding it good fun to make up these little banners to use in promo on Twitter and Facebook.
I'm sure people get bored with seeing the same cover photos at full size which are pushed out everyday - and yes, that's what I used to do - but now I find these little chaps and chappesses much more user friendly.

But first of all I need to try and make some alteration to my Microsoft Outlook account in order to stop it periodically deleting all my e-mails.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Sometimes I wonder...

My 14 year-old mini is going into the garage today for a new exhaust, so now I am grounded for the day. Will probably get lots of work done, and it is a good day to stay indoors because according to the Met office, storm Doris is on her way. (Haven't seen any signs of it yet at 9.09am)

Checked through a few magazines at the hairdressers yesterday and was disappointed to see so much female flesh on display. It is the same on the internet - small town celebs competing with each other to show as much flesh as they can before the censor clicks in. Pop concerts  with girls (supposedly) singing while wearing very little and edging dangerously close to the pornographic flashed across my tv screen while I had breakfast this morning. I wonder why it is? Surely this isn't what feminism is all about? How will women ever be deemed equal if they prance about in a state of undress and expect to be paid for it? What is it in women that makes them so keen to flaunt themselves as sexual beings? The local high school has hordes of girls who wear skirts no longer than their knickers (and sometimes shorter than their blazers) strolling through the streets - in this weather they must be freezing!

Not that I wholly support feminism either. Certainly not the kind that demands that I conform to their stereotype of what a woman must be. I sometimes wonder if the world would be a better place if mums stayed at home with the kids and settled for a life without two cars, three holidays a year and a tv in every room. Would so many children be deemed depressed, lonely, unsure of their sexuality if mum was there to come home to after school every day? Would they be bullied so easily, turn to self-harm and drugs so readily? It was one of the absolute certainties of my school life that she would be there whether I'd had a good or a bad day and I could tell her all about it. (If I wanted to - naturally.) I did not realise then how much I relied on her being there, but I do now.


Every person has the right to decide what they do with their life. Of course they do. But that doesn't stop me wondering why things happen, or wondering if things are the best they've ever been or if we're all caught in an illusion that it is better.