Debut Writer Mistakes

Oh, boy  did I make quite a bunch of mistakes in my new writing career. Trust, I’ve made them all. Let’s do a double facepalm at my mistakes, shall we?

  1. Publishing my very first book: They tell you not to do this. If you do this, it’s going to be ugly. There will be a ton of mistakes that you don’t realize until you press the “publish now” button. I know you’re excited. That elation you get from finishing something so pivotal. Oh, Lawd… if I could rewind 2011 and do it all over again. Surprisingly, it received 4.2/4.3 reviews! And yet, it is/was a complete mess! I got lucky. Damn lucky!
  2. Publishing my first rough draft: “You didn’t!” Oh… yes! I did this one too! “How could you?” I know! I didn’t know a damn thing about books! I didn’t have a mentor. I did it all on my own which refer back to the end of number one. I was lucky not to be raked over the coals. For a rough draft, it didn’t do too bad. I still won awards. All with a first rough draft.
  3. Bad Grammar:  I thought I had impeccable grammar skills. Until I realized that the words “then and than” were wrong. I seemed to forgot everything from my English classes. Apparently, I mixed up “pique, peaked, and peeked.” I still struggle with my commas today. At least my comma placement improved over the last couple of years.
  4. No Editor:  I’m a stubborn person, and I foolishly went without an Editor for the longest time. I still don’t have one, but I need one. I’m still shopping around for the perfect Editor. It’s hard to find one of those creatures. Even if you think or believe you’re a grammar-know-it-all, they will find your mistakes and expose you. KABOOM! And everything you wrote, you doubt.
  5. Making Bad Book Covers:  Now some of mine weren’t bad. They really weren’t. But when I first started to now… it’s been a long journey of finding that perfect book cover. For Epic Fantasy, you need to spend the money if you hope to self-publish that bad boy.
  6. One-Dimensional Characters:  This is how bad it was! They had no personalities. My characters were FLAT! Now all of my characters have personalities, problems, issues, flaws, and something redeemable in all of them! Ugh… Can we please redo 2011? Research character archetypes. That will get you started. You need those if you choose to write a fantasy. Who is going to be the hero/heroine? Who is going to be the jester? Who is the martyr? That’s what I mean by character archetypes. And you can mix those character archetypes, too. The possibilities are endless.
  7. No Chapter Titles: Yep, for my early book readers, there are no chapter titles. It just says “Chapter 1” and so forth. Now my chapters have titles.
  8. One BIG Chapter:  I put ten scenes without any chapter breaks in them. You didn’t have time to take a piss, eat, or shit. Scenes should only be three per chapter. The max word count per chapter is 5,000 words, MAX! Mine had 17,000 words per chapter. Oops! I really didn’t understand what I did wrong. Now I have 72 chapters and it makes an easier read. I still need to cut shit out. I try to stay within the 3,000 word range now. Any longer, we’re cutting that scene down. There is a thing called “page break” and “chapter break.” Chapter breaks are used when a scene dramatically changes. You need those. You can use whatever you like to divide the scenes. Keep it down to three scenes… TOPS! My book went from seventeen chapters to seventy-two chapters. That tells you something.
  9. Word Count Overkill: For a debut author, you need to cut that shit down to 100,000 words or less if you’re working on an epic fantasy. Some other genres is much less than that. The appropriate word count is 50,000-120,000 words depending on your genre. Right now, my book is sitting at 160,850 words. It used to be 179,000 words. I still have to kill scenes if I want to take the traditional route. I most likely won’t with this series. But still, I need to cut out more scenes. It’s way too long. Ain’t nobody got time to read a 550 page book! Come on now! Not with chasing around kids, a full-time job, and whatever takes you away from reading. In the old days, they can get away with it. Not in 2017. Yes, it would be War without the Peace if that book was published today. Literary agents won’t make an exception to that rule. They won’t bend for a 160,850 word count. Not today! Not when you have to compete with e-books, publishing, and editing costs. Your book takes up a certain amount of space on a shelf. Don’t be greedy. If you can, cut your book in half. If you can’t, you need to start cutting down that book. Now, if you were J.K. Rowling, you can publish whatever you want. But chances are you’re not. Debut authors MUST cut it down. If you can’t do that, good luck in finding that literary agent. You’ll find your manuscript in the reject pile immediately. Like I said… “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
  10. Genres? What Are Those? In the beginning, I couldn’t tell you what genre my books were in because I didn’t understand the purpose of a genre. “Well, I’m a cross-all-genre-writer!” That’s a good idea, but don’t do it with your book. Now is not the time to do that mess. Before you put the pen to paper, pick out your genre. Make sure your book fits that genre. So many authors put their books in the wrong genre! The shocking thing is that traditional publishers release those books in the wrong genres. Now I can say with clarity, “My series is epic fantasy as my main category, and Paranormal Romance is my secondary category.” It took me years to figure that out. Like 8 years.
  11. Age group? Huh? I didn’t know who my target audience was. I didn’t understand that at all. Now I do. Target age groups: NA, YA, MG, MA, General! People still struggle with age groups. I didn’t know what my series age group should be for the longest time. It isn’t a section you check off, it is your TARGET age group. Meaning the age range for people to read your work. The next is who you want to sell your book to for the age range.
  12. MG (Middle Grade): Middle Grade is for ages 8-13. Do you want this age range to read your book? You don’t want to put an erotic book in the MG section. No, you’ll face daggers from pissed parents.
  13. YA (Young Adult): Young Adult is for ages 13-21. Young Adult is quite popular these days. This is a very lucrative genre. Don’t write erotica in this genre either. Do you want a 13 year-old child to pick up your erotic novel? I think not. If you’re going to write romantic scenes, they need to fade to black. Kids don’t need to read about that stuff. Yes, they have high school drama, bullying, and popular/unpopular kids. Those are themes to consider when writing a novel.
  14. NA (New Adult): This is for the target age range of 18-30 somethings. 30 is a little too much for this genre. These usually cover your high school graduates, college kids, college graduates, motherhood, or they switch from job to job. This is the “undecided” group. Now you can use your young erotica in this genre. Anything pretty much goes in this genre. That’s why people prefer to read Young Adult over New Adult. And this is where my series sits because I have “undecided” college kids as my main characters. They change their minds quite often as they develop with age and time.
  15. MA (Mature Adult): This is for the settled class. Yes, they have erotic tendencies. These people have life figured out by now. They know what they want sexually and go their shit together for the most part. Hopefully, they do. It can contain 18 and beyond 30 somethings. There are some mature 18-year-olds out there that do the right things.
  16. General: This just means everyone can read this book. Don’t use sexual themes in this genre. It’s friendly enough for the MG and YA crowd to read. It isn’t too complex or hard for them to digest information.
  17. World Building? What’s that shit about? I tried to get away with not building a world in my epic fantasy. You obviously can’t do that if you’re writing an epic fantasy. I was being lazy as fuck. If you’re going to write in ANY fantasy, make sure you build a world. If you don’t, you’ll be labeled a lazy writer. I admit it! I’m the first to admit it! I had a city, but no country, or why these supernatural creatures were there in the first place. In Epic Fantasy, you need maps. I didn’t do that either. That’s my EPIC FAIL! How dare I besmirch the good names of Tolkien and Martin! They are the current leaders in Epic Fantasy. Now I built my fantasy world. It only took me 8 years to create a dynamic world. I also alternate in between two fantasy worlds. Now I have a country, cities, and dimensions. Everything has a name to it. I have towns, cities, who lives where. Different races, and different archetypes! GO ME! Developing an epic fantasy does take many years. You can’t write one overnight. You could, but it isn’t recommended you do that shit.
  18.  SERIES: Yes, I started with a series! “Well, E.L. James did it, why can’t I?” Never ever start with a series if you’re a debut author. Even though James did it, she still faced numerous criticism over her series. To me, it wasn’t well-developed. It has a ton of problems in it. I don’t believe a quality Editor actually edited her work. There are so many errors in the series, it makes me think that it was all a bad rough draft. Had she took the time, I’m sure her series would not be as bad as it is today. Either way, she still made her money. Proof that all you need is a great marketing scheme, and no real quality Editing. I believe she could have done much better than what she did. If you don’t mind your name shown in a bad light, go for it.
  19. Improper Formatting: What’s that? You need to know how to format, even if you’re a traditionally published author. That saves a lot of stress and anxiety in the long run. I have a copy of my first draft. This is the time to laugh. It is in a huge 8X10 book, and it was still double-spaced! And yes, I published it that way without realizing what I did wrong! Make sure you single-space if you decide to self-publish. Learn to use “Heading 1” for chapters. You need that for e-books. It makes it a much easier read. When I receive arcs (advanced review copies) of books, I never have chapters in their proper places. It’s hard for me to close the book on my e-reader. Please! For the love of all things holy! Learn to hyperlink your chapters! Until Google Doc improves, write in WORD! Microsoft Word is what Editors use to edit your books. Pretty much all editors use Microsoft Word. Microsoft gives you the option to pay yearly for a low fee, or monthly. I can’t do other programs because I’m “old school.” I always used Microsoft Word since the 90’s. It’s my go-to program. I can hyperlink my chapters and format in a breeze now. It does take some time to work it, but I figured out how to format quicker with it. I can even configure my table of contents with ease now. Three hashtags in a row will automatically break up a scene for you. You can go back in and turn those hashtags into a scene or chapter break. I just figured that one out for myself. Even an idiot like me, can figure it all out. YouTube gives you great demonstrations.
  20. Flash drive It: Let me tell you what happened to me. Let me paint you a horror story. I just finished working on the draft to my third book. Guess what I didn’t do? I saved my work, but it was all on my computer! Well, my laptop at the time, crashed. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare. I cried and begged my laptop to come back on. The cold sweats, the panic, the anger. Let me save you the heartache. Well, they sell these little nifty devices called “flash drives.” You plug them into your laptop/computer and save your work there. Make sure to update your flashdrives every time you decide to go to bed, or as soon as you finish writing your novel. Make sure to have at least 2-3 of them. Save your work on them. Not only save your work on flashdrives, but save your work online. Whether you use Google Docs, Cloud, or OneDrive. If you’re saving your work online, encrypt it & lock it down. Thankfully, my husband rigged my laptop long enough to save all my books on a flash drive for me. It required our television and a fan to cool it down. We got it though! And my husband got lucky that night. 😉

 

The purpose of this post is to laugh. It is also to inform new writers on what not to do in the future. I’m human and make mistakes. But as I learn to evolve, I become a much stronger writer. Don’t do what I did. Learn how to market your books. Learn how to format. Learn how to edit. Because an Editor makes mistakes too. They can’t find all the errors. Also learn to let go of your work. Even if it isn’t the best, at least you tried. And don’t beat yourself up when you get things wrong. That’s life. Everyone makes mistakes. Find a good mentor. Ask people for help. Pride destroys a ton of writers. And so does self-doubt.

 

NaNoWriMo 2016

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. I have joined and I’m doing quite well for day three. I kind of partied a little too hard after the Cub’s win.Baseball is huge in my family. My grandfather was a Cub’s fan. Unfortunately, he died five years before I was born. So, pretty much, the rest of us are die-hard Cub fans. I wish he was alive to see it. My mother’s side and her, were born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Anyway… it’s death to root for another team. I root for Chicago all the way down. Cubs, Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks. I know better. The only team I root for in the NCAA is the Kentucky Wildcats. That would be death from my dad’s side of the family. So, I’m mixed with southern slash midwest.

Anyway, my region is doing okay. I believe we have 347 novelists in my region. We are knocking down six thousand words a day. The goal is to shoot for 50,000 words. The key is to get in a habit and write. It doesn’t have to be pretty. I’m a perfectionist so guess what? It has to be perfect in my eye. I’m working on it! Anyway, I’m also an overachiever. I’m now on day three and I already have 25,000 words down. I had to rewrite my book. I changed Christian’s name to William. I love that name, so I chose William. It was my first replacement name. Since another popular series has Christian, I opted to use William. Will for short. I made a new prologue and epilogue for it as well. Some of my words are flipped backwards. I know I have a problem with that. I think it’s from mild dyslexia. Even on my blogs, I’ll flip my words around or put a strange word in there. My youngest son, third child is currently being diagnosed with dyslexia. I also believe our youngest daughter is color blind. But hey! I can handle everything. I have 25K words down. And then I noticed all these badges you can earn. So, little perfectionist me has to tone it down a notch. I don’t want to be finished with book 2 in three days. I need to stretch it out, once I hit the 50,000 mark. This one will be a heavy novel. It won’t be short. I expect it to be over 100,000 words. I had to split book 1 up because it was too long. That will be the only book, I’ll split.  Book 3 will probably be over 140,000 words. If I put those three books together, it will put me at 300,000 words. That leaves me 700,000 words to split in the following three books. My goal is to hit a million words in six books. I would like to hit two million words by the time I’m finished with my series.

These are the words that won’t be in any of my novels: copper, crimson, “oh my,” GD, or anything relating to inner goddesses, tiger,lioness, or anything like that. He filled me up with joy would be a much better selection. I’ve also removed the bets. It seemed pointless and dumb. Feather remains and Rosalie… will still wreck cars. I’m leaving all the story lines alone… except for Jeannie’s. I’m still tweaking her story line. I’ll be able to pay for my illustration here shortly. You will see Ian return at some point. We need to change a few things on Jeannie and change Christian/William up a lot. His face is longer than that. And we need to finish changing his name over to William. I can’t use Tristian because… you will see why in a few books down the road. That name is already in play. And Tris is too close to Tris from another series. It’s hard to come up with a name that another series hasn’t used much of. I can’t use Zachary… that’s my son’s name and it’s too weird. Anyway, that name is in play already but in a different form. I have a ton of characters. Raz is one of my favorites along with Ian. Watch what the dynamic duo in book 4. Ian gets a pair with Raz’s help. They are a mess together. Zane will turn into the scientist that he is. He won’t escape his lab but he does gain a friend. I have big plans for Zane in the future novels.

At the end of book 2, it will preview for the new book 4. I’m shifting the books back by one book. So the former book 2, will be the new book 3. I am using temporary book covers. The first five are ready. These are just place holders until I finish paying my Illustrator. Thankfully, he’s working with me. He could have been a dick. I won’t use anything until I know it’s paid off. Ian is the first character, I’m paying off. I need him, since he is the flagship of my series. And when you have a ton of medical issues flying at you, it makes self-publishing extremely difficult. What about editing? Well… considering the person who did the job did little technical issues, I won’t be hiring one again. Considering the other bodies of work, no editor or team of editors are perfect. But if you’re paying them the big bucks, that shit better be checked with a gold pen. I’m better off, putting that money in marketing. No book will ever be 100% correct. I have problems with my commas. That’s the only thing, I’m struggling with. I can catch everything else on my own. They usually make mine worse. Nope, won’t be hiring another one. I don’t care.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. I’m getting shit done.

 

Why I Became A Writer…

Unlike other jobs out there today, I chose to become a writer for various reasons. I’m going to make this post, short & simple.

  1. Imagination: I have and always had a wild imagination. I can obtain an idea from anywhere at anytime. Even in my dreams, I come up with scenarios and characters.
  2. Silence: It silences my brain. Not that I don’t want to be around people, the silence keeps my mind focused.
  3. Weather: I’m not a good person to work outdoors. I don’t do well with extreme cold or heat. Yes, I’m spoiled.
  4. Bosses: I don’t have to deal with nagging or rude bosses. I don’t have anyone standing over my shoulder.
  5. Breaks: I can take a break anytime I want.
  6. Censorship/PC: I don’t have to focus on tip-toeing around others or worry that I’ll offend people.
  7. Bathroom: I can use the bathroom anytime I want.
  8. Kids: I can stay at home with my kids. I get to see their minds expand. And I can help them with their homework.
  9. Creating: I enjoy my characters. Sometimes, I’d rather live with them and escape the real world. I get to pick out different personalities and expound on diversity. I enjoy the characters I have now.
  10. Health Reasons: This is the only job that works with my autoimmune & mental health disorders. I don’t receive death stares, when it’s time to take my medications. Some of my medications force me to fall asleep.

I didn’t choose to become a writer for fame or money. Let’s be realistic, writers don’t make a ton of money. If you choose to become a writer, realize that you’ll be broke. There are over a million writers out there today. The chances of your book making it big, are slim to none. This isn’t a glamorous job. Quite frankly, the money or lack of money, sucks. If you believe you’re going to become the next Rowling, King, Rice, or James, think again. This is also a cutthroat business. If you believe other writers won’t fuck you over, think again. You can have all the writing degrees in the world, but if you don’t have an imagination, you’re fucked. There are so many well-written stories but they lack in imagination. There are so many great imaginative stories but they’re terribly written. I, for one, am not a great writer. I never claimed to be. I’m a decent one but not one of the greats. When I think of the greats, I think of Tolstoy, Poe, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Tolkien, the Bronte sisters, Woolf, Angelou, Twain, etc… I could never compete with them and won’t even try.

Another thing that pisses me off… when writers say they aren’t readers. Why are you in this, if you don’t read books? You can gain so many new words and see how other writers, write. Don’t join this profession, if you hate to read. Guess what, you’re going to re-read all your drafts non-stop. It boggles my mind that writers refuse to read other books! That’s insanity to me.

This doesn’t bother me as much, but it still bugs me. Writers who only read in one certain type of genre. Putting yourself in this box, tells me you’re inflexible. And to be honest, not many writers understand their chosen genres. You wrote a Fantasy, when it should be Sci-Fi. I hate limits and boxes. I choose to read everything. Even if I know it’s boring, I’ll still read it anyway. Writers need to get their hands on everything. Explore a genre that you aren’t familiar with. Expand your horizons. Don’t limit yourself as a writer.

As a writer, I detest time travel. It leaves too many plot holes. Very few authors understand how to write it. You leave more questions than answers. Why can’t the other characters time travel? It drives me nuts! But I’ll read them anyway. I’ll be the asshole, who points out questions with your time travel. That way you can return and correct your mistakes. Expect to earn a low-rating from me, if you use time travel as your literary device and don’t establish why the others can’t time travel. That’s me being honest, the blunt bitchy writer.

Anyway, these are just a few things that irritate me as a writer. You can tell me to fuck off. I’m just being me and I’m honest.