Monday 29 February 2016

February 2016 #JoWriMoGo Final Tally



At the end of February, I have managed to write 68 pages and 29,902 words this month!! That translates into twelve chapters, six of each book, and am hoping to reach the end by this time next month! And then the process starts anew with two more ideas!

Thursday 18 February 2016

From Joey's Instagram

How Do You Know When It's Done? - The After Process

How do you know when it's done?

In the after process, the bit that comes once you've finished your first draft, let it sit for a while and have started preparing it for publication - whether that's through the traditional or the indie route - knowing when it's truly done can be hard. After all, there are always ways to make the draft better and there will most likely always be some minor mistakes that make it through to the very final draft. But how do you know when to stop editing and re-drafting and call it a day? The answer may seem simple to you, but this is the way I've done things since becoming an author and that's the only basis I can use to answer this question.

As you'll know from having read my previous posts on this subject, I don't start editing straight away. Once I finish the book, I save it, file it away and then a year or so later, I come back to it with completely fresh eyes. At that point, I start the beginnings of making my second draft, then my third and so on. Eventually it goes to my editor and we keep going from there. But how do I know when the story is the best one it can possibly be? To be honest, I don't always know. Sometimes it's as easy as just feeling that this fits, that it's the story in my head and is created perfectly (or as near as) in the written word and that it's ready to be sent out into the big world. Other times I fret and worry and re-draft over and over because I honestly don't know if this is it. Usually at that point, my editor, proof-reader and other close friends who have read the drafts will take me to one side and tell me to stop and just let it go.

The reason they do this is because it is possible to edit too much, and to do something you may not be able to undo, which is change the story so much that it stops being what you planned to create and actually loses it's plot line and everything else along with it. Every writer wants to create a perfect story, the majority of us will also have major issues with believing that the work they do is worthy of being published. It's as if once you put on that writing hat, you get enormous self doubt that makes you want to hide every draft from anyone's eyes. In fact these days, I don't let anyone read my first draft. I may tell people the outline and some minor details, but the first draft is for my eyes only. Sometimes the same applies to the second and third, as it's only the draft I send to my editor that first gets read by someone who's not me.

I have finished writing twelve books, and am, at this moment in time, writing the second draft of my ninth book which is due out in paperback and e-book in the summer. I remember when I wrote the last line of the ninth book and I knew, I mean I KNEW, that that line was where I was going to end the book. It fitted so perfectly and I loved it! I walked around with a grin on my face for weeks afterwards as I remembered how perfectly that line fitted. Yet, I also haven't read the book since I finished it in 2013, and have almost written four more since. Do I honestly know if that last line will be where that book ends now? No, I don't. The editing process is about making sure that the reader has the same grin on their face as I did when I wrote it. So, although it may be hard for me to do so, that line may be one of the many that are cut from the final draft.

But back to the topic, in all those books, how many have I known for sure were done when I had re-written time and time again? As I have only gone through the process eight times, I can honestly say, about 50%. Some of the books had about fourteen drafts, whereas others only got up to five or so. Some I agonised over for weeks and weeks, never knowing if I was doing the right thing, and others the words flowed and I knew when it should end and what phrase it should end on. It's one of those things that people say will get easier to judge with practice and while I have had some of that, I'm always going to be still learning, just as most other authors are. The important thing to take away though, is that there comes a point where you need to stop editing. At least a point where you need to be able to say, "Okay, I've done all I can," and mark it as done. Otherwise we'd all be stuck in the editing process and no books would ever make it to market.

Now, just to be clear, that does not mean that once you say done, you stop editing completely. I just mean you stop writing new drafts with major plot points changed. You will, as most authors - indie or traditional - find some grammatical, spelling and sometimes even plot errors that need correction and you should always be on the look out for those to be extra sure that your book is as error free as possible, but as far as things outside of that, editing has to stop sometime.

It may even be that you decide that you're not happy enough with the plot still to put it out there. My advice then would be to save what you've done, put it down somewhere and come back to it a long while later to see if it can be salvaged or if it was just causing you to go cross-eyed because you'd looked at it for too long. That's always a possibility too. As always though, your mileage may vary. Happy writing!

Follow Joey on Facebook, Tumblr or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

From Joey's Instagram

"It takes as long as it takes." - The Creative Process

"It takes as long as it takes."

This is not my usual kind of post. Normally I blog on the subject of writing advice and while I know that it's just my opinions, it's nice for me and my readers to have insight into my process. That's not what this post is about. Before I go any further, I want to give a little background information. Some of it you'll be aware of if you're a long time reader, but others coming across this for the first time won't know me and my history.

I am a chronically ill indie author. I have several physical conditions that mean I use a wheelchair full time. I can also be seen using oxygen and other medical aids. The exact conditions are not relevant and it's not something that you need to know. I've been sick for about fifteen years, but I also have mental health conditions and have battled with depression and anxiety longer than I've been physically disabled. I was retired from an office job at the age of nineteen, and was told that I probably wouldn't work a conventional job again, so I became a writer. For eleven of those fifteen years I have been a published author, and for the past five years, an indie author. That's the history over with.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine. She was, at one point, my editor and is the reason that Dying Thoughts - Third Wish, and Waiting On You are as error free as they are. She helped to shape them into the books they have become. We're still really good friends, we were before she was my editor and we will be, I hope, for many more years to come. She is one of two people I know I can go to when the mood hits low and I'm struggling. The other is my carer, and best friend of twenty plus years.

As anyone with depression will know, it has it's ups and downs, as do most chronic conditions. For the majority of the time, I am well medicated and stable, but there are times, like recently, when I fall into a black hole and can't quite find it in myself to climb out. This is one of those times. I'm climbing out slowly, but as I make my way to the top, the odd rock slips and and I falter or fall and have to start anew. I was talking with my friend, Kim, about all the wishes I had for my author career and how I was beating myself up because I hadn't achieved all my goals of 2015, and was nowhere near the ones for 2016. I know that may sound strange because, come on, it's February! But it's how my mind works.

We talked back and forth about the things I had accomplished and I kept knocking it back with how I'd been doing this for over a decade and yet I still hadn't gotten very far. I was beating myself up over not being a best-seller when in truth, it's only been five years since I properly entered the indie author world. She kept making good points, but with the blackness of the depression, I couldn't see them. And then she said one thing to me that has stuck with me. "It takes as long as it takes."

It's a simple phrase isn't it? One that really shouldn't hold as much meaning to me as it did. I'm asking of myself the impossible, to have reached the stars because I had been trying for so long, yet what Kim said is true. It will take as long as it takes. The point is, to not give up, to not let whatever life throws at you steer you off course completely. I mean, it has an effect, of course, when I spent a week in the hospital, I was going to miss out on writing, that's just a fact, but that doesn't mean that I'd failed and should just give up. It will take as long as it takes to write these books, to get those reviews, to sell those copies, to get that signing, to get the readership you want and to reach the place you want to be. To be honest, you never stop aiming higher as an indie author, or in any dream job, I don't think anyone reaches a point where they stop dreaming, stop setting goals for themselves and aiming to do better. I could be wrong, but for me my first dream was to have my book on people's bookshelves, then it was to have more books, then to finish ten and so on and so on. Dreaming is about aiming for something just out of reach and striving to achieve it.

But, and I often forget, as I'm sure you have, it takes as long as it takes. Don't fail to dream because you missed one deadline. That doesn't make you a failure or a fake. It makes you human. Stand back up, climb out of the pit, keep going and whenever that whisper of rejection or criticism comes to you, remember it takes as long as it takes.

Follow Joey on Facebook, Tumblr or here on her blog to be kept up to date with latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Monday 1 February 2016

From Joey's Instagram

From Joey's Instagram

Giveaway Winners!

As you'll have seen from my Facebook page and Tumblr, I have been running a giveaway for the past week and now comes the fun part - announcing the winners!!

--> £20 Amazon Giftcard -  Zuzanna Szablows
--> Signed paperback copies of Lynne & Hope, Blackout, and Waiting On You - Martha Paz-Soldan
--> Signed paperback copies of Dying Thoughts - Second Sight, Dying Thoughts - Third Wish, and Dying Thoughts - Fourth Week - Linda Ruamthong
--> A set of signed bookmarks - Lara Majcan; Mike Bratek; Greentopiaries; Prasert
--> A set of signed postcards - Celesta Thiessen; Marie Ray; Catherine Talento; Lara Majcan
--> £/$10 Amazon Giftcard - Prasert; Celesta Thiessen

All winners were chosen using Rafflecoptor's random generator. Thanks for taking part and I plan to do more giveaways in the coming months!