Same Story, Different Day

photoThe wonderful thing about keeping a blog, diary or record, is that you can archive your life. While we may have fragments of our ancestors’ lives, thanks to modern technology, we are indexing ourselves faster than any library.

This time last year, on this very space, I was bemoaning how far behind I was with my NaNoWriMo goal of 1666 words a day.

2013? Not that different really. Except that instead of biting my nails, I’m at the desk late into the night. My goal is no longer to catch up (maybe even the dream of finishing on time is pulling away from me). My goal is to be faithful to my story and tell it.

No matter how long it takes. No matter that like children, other projects are begging for my attention – including a paperback edition of a novel, content revisions for another – I keep writing a little at a time. I am researching djinns/jinns as one of them in a major character in this new book.

And I press on.  Sometimes the best way to get energy from to tell your own story is to help someone with theirs. That’s what the diagram to the left is; I’m teaching a NaNoWriMo MOOC or an online course to help others finish. Here’s a diagram of the 3 Act structure we brainstormed today at lunch time.

How are you doing with your writing goals, NaNo or otherwise?

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Was I Robbed of a Bestseller?

UnlikelyLast week, I was battling (and losing) jet lag, the requisite wound for international summer travel. What saved me was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. In sheets damp with sweat -we came back to a broken air conditioner – I turned pages until the wee hours of the morning. My perspiration could have been attributed to the plot which was full of twists and turns.

What resonated with me, however, more than the dramatic peaks and valleys of the thriller itself, was the structure. A husband and wife, each telling their version of their love story gone wrong, in alternating chapters.

In 2006 I set out to write a book about the decay of a relationship, with alternating voices and chapters, of a boyfriend/girlfriend. The editor I engaged to work on this – my very first project – told me the structure wouldn’t work. I don’t remember the exact words but I do know that project is now in the 15 iteration and has a singular protagonist.

I’m not angry, honest I’m not. Only puzzled. Should I have stuck with my original idea? Could I have made those voices – characters who showed up during a writing workshop in the summer of 2006 – do my will, even if the editor didn’t believe in them?

I was reminded of this nagging feeling I had given up something when I read One Day by David Nicholls for much the same reason as Gone Girl. Boy and girl. Story of meeting, unmeeting, told in the past, then future, then present.

I don’t know if I didn’t have the confidence to tell that type of story. Or if it is better in the hands of experienced writers like Nicholls and Flynn, both of whose books went on to be bestsellers with movie adaptations (Flynn’s is forth coming).

I do know that over 15 books later, edited, fiction and non-fiction, I won’t make the same mistake again. If I have an idea, I will stick to it and give my characters a chance to make their debut in the world.

I have learned a tremendous amount working and reworking that manuscript into the soon to be released book now know as An Unlikely Goddess. I’ve stopped counting the number of revisions; we are somewhere around version 20 and I spent a few hours on Saturday tending to over 200 comments. When the book comes out it will be the culmination of nearly two years in self publishing and over ten years in writing, rewriting, and creating on my journey to becoming a full time writer.

What about you? Have you been given good or bad writing advice?


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How the Internet Allows Others to Damage to Your Reputation

I’m not someone who thinks Facebook is my personal diary. Even in the days of AIM, my status message didn’t tell you if I was in the shower. Despite my restraint (often brought on by my husband)

Alachia GoodReads
Alachia GoodReads (Photo credit: alachia)

I can still be affected by the way Internet and a user’s ability to destroy your reputation.
Because how people perceive online (as in real life) isn’t entirely in your control. I was taught this sharp reminder this week on the site Goodreads, a website for book lovers. I’ve been on Goodreads for about a year, since starting my exploration of the indie publishing world. All six of my ebooks are up on the site; you can see covers, reviews, YouTube trailers, and my bio, website, on my author page.

Imagine my dismay when I saw my latest release, Love Comes Later, had a one star next to it. One, out of five. As in, the entire three years I put into this book made it less than average for a reader. Now authors are constantly cautioned about bad reviews, how to handle them, not to harass bloggers. Fair enough. I wasn’t going to go howler monkey on the person, I wanted to know more.

When I clicked, another reader had the same question.

She said: I’m looking forward to reading it. So, it was just ok? Do you think it would make a good book club selection?

Here’s the kicker, the person hadn’t even read it.

Turns out a glitch in the system tagged it with a one star. The original tagger wrote: i didn’t read it yet; probably just added to my list with wrong designation. i’m reading 11/22/63 now.

What followed was me politely asking the person to rectify this error. An error that can sink a new book like mine.
This is where we ended up: your book is either good or isn’t and readers will read or not.

I’m not going into the ironies of someone on a book review site stating that reviews have no bearing on how readers select books. Hopefully that point is clear enough. The book is about to do a blog tour and soon will have many other posts on this page, good and maybe some equally bad.

What I am reminding myself, and those of you on this wild bronco called the Internet, is the importance of being nice.


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