Story Arcs: 2013 365 Challenge #186

Aaron on his new bike (early bday gift)

Aaron on his new bike (early bday gift)

Following on from yesterday’s post, I was flicking through my notes for Dragon Wraiths today and I came across an eight-point story arc that I found on the dailywritingtips.com website. The eight-points are taken from a craft book by Nigel Watts, called Teach Yourself: Writing a Novel. I have another in the Teach Yourself series (Teach Yourself Creative Writing) which is excellent, so I have ordered Nigel Watts’ book to help me with Class Act.

Running through the eight-point arc against Class Act, I realise that I am about 70% there, and it has really helped clarify the remaining 30%.

In summary the eight points are:

  • Stasis (normal life)
  • Trigger (external to protagonist, sparks the story)
  • Quest (caused by trigger)
  • Surprise (all the conflicts and complications of the story)
  • Critical Choice (reveals real personalities)
  • Climax (result of critical choice: highest peak of tension)
  • Reversal (consequence of critical choice and climax – should change status of characters)
  • Resolution (return to fresh stasis with characters changed and story resolved)

Interestingly I also found notes on the story arc for a Teen Romance by Mindy Hardwick (I’m always impressed when I discover that I did more research than I remembered!) The story-arc for YA Romance is Infatuation, Flirtation, Friendship, Commitment, Love. I think DW follows this, apart a comment Mindy Hardwick makes on the last point. She says

“…teen romances do not necessarily have a happily-ever-after. In fact, most teen romances will not have them. Why? […] Each teen has been changed by this first love, and now the characters will find themselves pulled apart by life events..”

I thought about leaving Luke behind at the end of Dragon Wraiths, unable to join Leah, but – what can I say? – I’m a sucker for a Happy Ever After!

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire froze, unsure how to react. She had never seen her mother cry before. Melanie Carleton did not show her feelings; it was vulgar. The most extreme portrayal of emotion thus far, in Claire’s experience, was irritation or chiding. Nothing to compare with the shuddering sobs shaking her mother’s shoulders. She knew she should offer comfort. Words, a hug. Somehow her body wouldn’t rise from the hard kitchen seat. She sat mute, and waited for the storm to pass.

Eventually, her mother raised her head and brushed at her cheeks, as if angry to find tears there. Claire willed herself to speak, the words dredged from her.

“Can I get you anything? Tea?”

Melanie shook her head. Her lips twisted, as if a bitter taste had filled her mouth.

“I’m fine. I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“Oh, Mum.” Claire rose, finally galvanised into motion. Moving round the table, she wrapped one arm awkwardly around her mother’s shoulders. Melanie reached to grasp her daughter’s hand, and they remained for some time in silence.

After a few minutes, her mother patted her hand, and Claire took the signal to sit back down. She pulled up a chair, sitting knee to knee.

“Why do you think he’s having an affair? That doesn’t seem like Dad.”

Melanie sighed. “Oh, it’s probably nothing. I’m never here, what with picking Sky up from school and making sure Ruth takes care of herself. I can understand your father needing to find something to fill his time.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s another woman.” Claire thought, guiltily, about the conversation she’d had with her father, last time she was home. She wanted to tell her mother, reassure her, but she’d revealed too many secrets recently. But surely it would be better than her mother thinking she was a cuckolded woman.

“There is only so much golf a man can play,” Melanie declared, more spirit in her voice. “But if he’s not playing golf, where on earth is he? He was out all day yesterday, in the pouring rain, but when he came home he wasn’t even damp. Since when did they have indoor golf courses. Besides, I didn’t even think he liked the game.”

Claire inhaled, not knowing what to do for the best. She watched as her mother twisted her fingers, bemused to see that the skin looked papery and thin. When did Mum get old?

Looking up at her face, she saw the weariness dragging at her mouth and darkening her eyes. Poor Mum.

“He doesn’t.” Claire’s words fell into the silence.

“What?” Melanie looked up, her face showing her confusion.

“He hates golf. He told me, last time I was here.”

She watched as the tiredness gave way to fury. That settled it, she had no choice but to give at least something away.

“I don’t think he’s having an affair though. I’m pretty certain you’ll find he’s been at the library. Don’t ask me why,” she added, before her mother could speak. “I’ve broken enough confidences. Ask him.” She put her hand on her mother’s knee, then took it away again and rested it in her own lap.

“You need a break. I’ll go and stay with Ruth for a few days. I’ll look after Sky, make sure they both eat, anything you tell me I need to do. Spend some time with Dad. Talk to him. You might be surprised.”

Relieved to see the fury seep away from her mother’s eyes, Claire got up and went to fill the kettle, wondering what she was going to say to Carl about taking more time off to look after her niece.

***

Enthusiastic Editing: 2013 365 Challenge #169

A lovely little editing book

A lovely little editing book

I had an unusual day today:I enjoyed editing.

I was fortunate to read a post by Rinelle Grey before I started work this morning, about her four favourite writing books. I have one, and one is to do with sales. Of the remaining two, I was drawn to one called The Little Book of Self-Editing for Writers by Bridget McKenna.

Discovering that it was less than the price of a latte, I downloaded it and started reading. Which nearly resulted in no Claire installment for this morning’s post! I managed to drag myself away to dredge up a miserable 400 words before jumping straight back in.

It’s not a long book and I only skimmed it, but it really helped me focus on what to tackle next with Baby Blues. I hope one day to really polish and polish it, and I know I shouldn’t publish it until that has happened. But hey, it’s out in the world already…

My aim is to erase it’s most awful sins speedily and get back to Claire, or I won’t finish my 2013 challenge. I probably wouldn’t finish Baby Blues either because it’ll go back in the bottom drawer. So, for a flying edit, the book is brilliant. Particularly the check list at the end. It suggests tallying up the things that shouldn’t be in your book. Adverbs, filler words, things like Just (257), That (1220), Really (125). I’m not surprised about the number of ‘Just’s, as I wrote a post about it!

The numbers were astounding, as much for the ones I didn’t have loads of as the ones I did. Not a single ‘Absolutely’ in the entire manuscript, even though I say it all the time.

Killing adverbs in Baby Blues

Killing adverbs in Baby Blues

I like numbers. They’re comforting. They’re a way to track progress. I didn’t used to be a marketing analyst for nothing. Numbers motivate me. It’s why editing is hard. When you’re drafting you can say, I wrote 7,000 words today, and smile at that. With editing it’s harder. Now I have numbers.

I started the day with 2040 words ending in ly. They’re not all adverbs, and not all adverbs end in ly, but what a great place to start. At the end of today, that number is down to 1760. I’ve managed to shave over 1100 words off the bloated manuscript total of 117,500, and fix several POV issues in the process.

It’s not the most structured way to edit, but it works for me. It was hard to tear myself away to vacuum upstairs and unpack the shopping. The dog almost despaired of her walk, although it’s glorious out here and I’m glad she convinced me. Lord knows what I’m going to do for Claire though. I want to get back to scrubbing out those adverbs. Not all of them – I’m not that patient – but certainly the easy ones.

I’m breaking all the rules of writing and deserve to be whipped, but quick fix editing? Yes please.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:

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Claire registered the name flashing on her phone, and the world went still. She searched the empty lounge for a place to hide. Finding nothing, she turned her attention back to the phone, her thumb hovering over the buttons: green, red, green, red. Selecting one without looking, she held the phone to her ear.

“Claire?”

“Hello, Michael.”

“I, er, hello. How are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks.”

The phone fell silent. Words came and went in Claire’s mind, but none seemed the right ones. She waited for Michael to give the reason for his call. At last she heard him draw breath, and she unconsciously held hers.

“I saw on Facebook that Kim’s getting married, weekend after next.” He paused again, and Claire had time to curse the innumerable connections that meant he could still keep tabs on her life. He and Kim were not friends.

“Yes, they decided to Carpe Diem. I’m maid of honour.”

She had a pretty good idea what he wanted, but decided to make him sweat. This time the silence lasted a beat too long, before words tumbled out.

“Do you have a date?”

Claire laughed. She couldn’t help it; she hadn’t expected him to be so blunt. What happened to the suave businessman, never at a loss?

“No, Michael, I don’t have a date. I’ve been rather busy of late.”

“Yes, I follow the blog. How was your week with Sky?”

“It was great, well, until the end anyway.”

“Why, what happened?” Michael’s concern buried deep into Claire’s tummy, sparking warmth.

“Dad called to say Ruth had taken a turn for the worse. We had to leg it to the hospital.”

“What’s wrong with Ruth?” The sharpness in Michael’s voice reminded Claire that he had met her family; that Ruth wasn’t merely a name. She recalled, too, that she had yet to tell Michael of her sister’s illness. Hard to avoid it now.

“She has cancer. Well, she had a tumour, in her brain. They removed it, but it seems to have spread.”

“Oh, Claire. Why didn’t you tell me?” He inhaled, and she could imagine him running his hands through his hair. “Why would you cope with something like that alone?”

“I’m not alone, Michael.” The words were colder than intended. “I have friends, family. It’s kind of you to be concerned, but I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.”

“But you shouldn’t have to.”

Michael’s words triggered a memory. Sitting in A&E thinking that, even though she didn’t need a man, it would be rather nice to have someone to take care of her. Then she remembered Michael’s habit of treating her like a Royal Doulton figurine, and decided there was a fine line between caring and suffocating.

“Ruth is in good hands. Mum and Dad are nearby, Robert came over and dealt with the doctors, and I can mind Sky whenever she needs. We’re fine.”

“Well, I’m here if you need me.”

“I know, Michael.”

“And if you want someone to go to Kim’s wedding. You know, as a friend.” He paused, and Claire could imagine him replaying their meeting at the airport. She wondered if he regretted going to a wedding with Debbie as a friend.

The words of denial were on her lips, when another thought presented itself. Maybe I should let him come. Maybe that’s what we both need. What do the Americans call it? Closure? Maybe we need to see that we’ve outgrown each other. It’s been months now. What harm can it do? It’s not like it’s a romantic weekend away: We’ll be staying in bunk-beds. She chose not to remember her encounter with the Scotsman in a top bunk.

“I’ll have to ask Kim. You’re not exactly her favourite person, you know.”

“You dumped me, Claire. I’m not the bad guy in all this.” The rest of her words seemed to register, as he stopped abruptly. “Wait a minute; what will you speak to Kim about?”

“Whether you can come to the wedding as my plus one. As a friend.” She emphasised the words. “You can make yourself useful as an usher or something.”

“Whatever you want, Claire. I’ll be the perfect guest.”

Claire winced at the hope and excitement in his voice. Damn, this was a bad idea. Still, it was done now. She could always say Kim had vetoed it.

The idea of Michael coming to the wedding seemed to alleviate the dread she had been carrying round for the last few days. At least I’ll have someone to talk to, to distract me from all that romantic bliss. As long as Michael doesn’t find out Kim’s pregnant. That’s a discussion I do not need to have with him.

“Okay, Michael. No funny business and no guarantees. I’ll talk to Kim. If you do come, it will be purely to keep my glass full and stop me dying of boredom. I barely know any of Kim and Jeff’s friends.”

“Understood.”

Claire hung up the phone. She felt like Pandora, wishing the box lid had remained firmly closed.

***

Relentless Revision: 2013 365 Challenge #74

This is me when faced with revision...

This is me when faced with revision…

I’ve been revising Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes all day today.

Well, no, let’s be honest. I’ve been farting about on Twitter and WordPress and getting my head around Hotmail switching to Outlook, while thinking to myself I should be doing revision.

I’ve watched Homes Under the Hammer, dozed on the sofa and walked the dog. I’ve stacked the dishwasher, although I haven’t hoovered or cleaned the floor like I should have (just delegated the hoovering to hubbie but now I feel guilty because domestic chores are my job).

Have I mentioned before I hate doing revision on my novels? Probably once or twice. I’m fine for a page or two but then the sheer scale of the job overwhelms me, or I come across a scene that really stinks, and that’s it. Poof. All motivation evaporates. I really really want to stop working on Baby Blues (it will never be ‘finished’!) but if I release it into the world before it’s ready it will die and maybe take my (currently non-existent) reputation as an author with it.

On a happier note my wandering through the world of WordPress has introduced me to some great new blogs. I thought I should have a look wider than the parenting/writing blogs I tend to follow, and I’ve found some lovely photography sites and other more general ones. When I have time (i.e. when I’m meant to be revising again) I’ll pick out one or two to share.

Anyway, I think it’s time to have something different happen to Claire. I have an idea or two floating around so going to open my Word doc and see what falls on the page.

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Claire pulled her coat tighter and tucked her chin into the collar. After the heat of the pub the night air was bitter. She had stayed longer than intended, enjoying the open fire and the good wine, and now the sky had settled into a dusky shade of blue.

What a stupid idea to walk. I must stop listening to advice. Who cares if it’s only fifteen minutes, I got enough exercise this morning with those horrible brats and the oh-so-charming Pete.

The sun had set behind her and she knew the sky was laced with red and orange. Ahead it was dark, with only a faint glow highlighting the hills beyond the village.

I hope there are streetlamps up the lane. I didn’t think to bring a torch. Claire dug in her bag for her iPhone and used it to light the road ahead. I don’t want to step in anything nasty.

She walked on, concentrating on the pavement directly in front of her in case some careless dog owner had left something behind. These are the only shoes I’ve got that aren’t already crusted with mud. I’d like to keep them that way.

Ideas for her blog post drifted through her mind, floating on a glass of wine and settling into the rhythm of her stride. How am I going to write about this morning in a funny way without getting Pete into trouble? I guess I don’t have to name him. She thought about the weaseling trip and laughed, the sound echoing in the still night air. Too many pies. Cheeky bastard. Patting her tummy Claire thought that maybe her jeans were a little tighter than they had been a few weeks ago. It’s all these pub dinners. Why do they have to make the Fish and Chips look so yummy on the menu? Mind you, it was yummy. But it’s not exactly sushi or noodles. If there was any justice I’d be burning the calories doing stupid things like walking back to the hostel in the dark.

As if the words formed an image in her mind Claire became aware of just how dark it was. The pool of orange light cast by each streetlamp only seemed to highlight the darkness in between. Killing the light on the iPhone she tried to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Her heart thudded loudly and she twitched at the sound of something scurrying in the hedgerow behind her.

What’s with all these looming walls and rustling trees? It’s spookier than a cemetery at Halloween. Come on girl, you’re not one to be afraid of a bit of black. Sheesh don’t add fear of the dark to your newly found phobias. Josh will piss himself laughing.

Claire opened her shoulders and raised her neck as if she was back in Madame Émile’s ballet class imagining a line pulling her head to the ceiling. It was as she was about to release the inhaled breath that she heard the footsteps. They were steady, unhurried, coming up behind her. She resisted the urge to walk faster. City life had taught her to ignore the approach of others, to remember that not every stranger on the street was out to kill you.

She strode the length of a long wall and saw the turning to the hostel driveway up ahead, past some houses set back from the road. The footsteps behind her seemed to be drawing nearer although their pace matched her own. It made her think it must be someone with a long stride. Or someone intent on catching me up.

Her heartbeat came faster now and the battered fish sat heavy in her stomach. She lengthened her own stride and glanced up and down the road ready to cross and turn up the drive. She deliberated whether to abandon the walk home and return to the safety of village. It was unlikely that the driveway had any lighting and she didn’t remember there being houses between the main road and the hostel.

Silly girl. Why didn’t I drive down for dinner? Or leave earlier. Somewhere between the thump thump of her footsteps and their unwanted echo and the timpani-pounding of her heart Claire knew why she hadn’t bothered. This is Hope Valley. People don’t get attacked out here. People get attacked in cities like Manchester. She thought about all the news stories she had seen with some poor soul sobbing, explaining that that sort of thing just didn’t happen round here. Claire felt the blood drain from her face at the thought that it has to happen somewhere.

The attack came from her right, not from behind. She had been so concerned with the footsteps she had failed to see the shadowy figure lurking on a park bench beneath the trees. Claire felt someone grab at her bag, trying to pull it from her shoulder. She swung out an elbow and let the bag slip free, knowing her phone was in her hand and her wallet in her back pocket. She’d at least learned that much. As soon as the bag was free she ran, hoping the man had what he wanted. She had forgotten about the footsteps, the fact that anyone following her would have seen her phone in her hand.

The first pursuer caught up with her as she crossed the road. Self-defence classes came to her aid and she jabbed the heel of her hand into his solar plexus before he could get a good grip. He crumpled, winded, and Claire span back to the driveway, wondering if her trembling legs would carry her the full distance before the second person arrived.

Her mind screamed at her to do something and without stopping to consider she yelled “Call Michael”. She heard her phone ringing in the pitch black of the lane. The screen lit up as the call connected.

Oh stupid girl.

The light shone bright in the darkness and the running footsteps came straight for her. Something sped through the air and she felt the impact against her temple, as a piercing pain stabbed through her head and blurred her vision.

A familiar voice rang in the darkness. “Hello? Michael speaking.”

Claire felt someone wrench the phone from her hand and then nothing.

***

Revision blues

I have revision blues. I was so excited about starting to revise my WIP but I still have no real understanding of how to go about it, and when I can’t do something it makes me sad. Not very helpful or grown up, I know. If my daughter said such a thing to me I’d tell her it just takes practice and it’s okay to ask for help. She’s three. It’s okay not to know how to do something when you’re three!

I like to think it’s the impossible deadline (combined with a killer cold) that has sucked my motivation, but that’s just an excuse. I’m good at excuses. If I’m honest (in a way you can only really be with yourself at 1am) the difficulty with revision is that it exposes how little I truly know about writing.

I hate being a novice.

I nearly sobbed in rowing today because the coach was telling me I was doing it all wrong. It was only my fourth lesson but I’d done so well the week before it was crushing to be told I was rubbish. No one is more critical of me than me and I get extremely frustrated at myself if I can’t do something. To the point that – like my stroppy three-year-old – I stomp my foot, yell “Can’t do it!” and chuck whatever item I’m holding across the room. (Did I mention I’m more of a child than she is sometimes?)

I read another instructive blog by Kristen Lamb this week, this one was about structure and how it separates the beginners from the professional writers. I confess I didn’t completely understand the blog which probably puts me firmly in the not about to be published anytime soon camp! I do at least own the Plot and Structure book she quotes from: I just need to read it.

So, as well as trying to polish a first draft in an impossible six weeks, just in case I’m shortlisted for the Mslexia award, I’m trying to learn how to write and how to revise all at the same time. It’s no wonder I’ve picked up Garth Nix’s Keys to the Kingdom again. I’m already on Drowned Wednesday. I may not know much about scene and sequel or Goal – Conflict – Disaster but when it comes to displacement activity I’m a master.

The one positive I’ve had so far is discovering a useful revision summary by KittyB78. It doesn’t tell me how to revise but it does give some things to look for, such as scene flow and characterisation. I like the idea of highlighting different parts, like dialogue, internal thought, characterisation, in different colours. There are also some other great revision tips in the comments.

My biggest challenge this year might be resisting the urge to do NaNoWriMo again. I love it and several of my (unfinished) novels were born in November. However the last thing I need right now is another first draft to nag at me and distract me from actually finalising one of my existing manuscripts. Kristen Lamb is always talking about writers being distracted by the next new shiny.

That’s me!

Writing first drafts is so easy compared with revision and yet seems more like Writer work, so I don’t feel guilty for being unemployed as I do most days. If only they could do a revision equivalent of NaNoWriMo, to help and motivate you to beat a Nano first draft into shape. Now that I’d sign up to!

Anyway I think my darling son is finally asleep, despite the tap-taping of my mobile phone and the eerie sight of me up-lit in the darkness, so it’s back to bed for me. I haven’t revised more than a page in a week so must get a good day in tomorrow.

May the muse be ever in your favour.

Renewing my love affair with dragons (and editing)

Still from Stefen Fangmeier’s 2006 film Eragon.
Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Allstar

I find myself in the unprecedented position that I am itching to start editing my work in progress, Dragon Wraiths.

Usually I only enjoy the writing part and approach revision and editing much as I would a trip to the dentist. This time, though, I am having to force myself to finish the four or five chapters in the final section before I start taking it all apart. Thankfully I decided on a structure of nine 3,000-word-ish chapters per section (although I have added a whole extra section in my usual scope-creep), otherwise I would take the easy way out and decide the first draft is done already.

For most of my novels I am aware that I have underplayed the climax because I ran out of steam, or ideas, or a new book lured me away. So I am determined to battle through my battle scenes before I let myself review the whole and start drawing out the themes.

This time I think my last-chapters-lethargy is caused by things other than exhaustion or boredom (although with an average word count of 10,000 a day on the two days a week I get to write, exhaustion of ideas is definitely a factor. Hence no blog posts for a couple of weeks – all out of words!)

Firstly I’ve already closed out the love story and written the final scene. A mistake, but an unavoidable one. The final scene presented itself while I was walking the dog (see next post) and I never look gift words in the mouth. As a result I have written the bit of the story I’m interested in and skimmed over the same parts I often skim-read, namely the battle scenes.

The other problems are more positive. I am nervous, elated and excited about this book. It feels good. I have ideas about themes, character development, setting and so on that I want to build on during revision. All the wonderful blogs I read have clearly had an influence and I am eager to put them into practice.

I have also been reading some excellent and varied middle grade and young adult books about dragons, including Eragon by Christopher Paolini (written when he was fifteen!) and The Dragon’s Eye by Dugald A. Steer. These were complemented by an interesting blog post from 2009 that I discovered when searching for an image for this post: Dragons in Literature by Imogen Russell Williams, adding yet another great blog writer to my growing list.

As well as my eagerness to get going on revision I am also conscious of my deadlines. I am writing this book to enter in two Children’s Novel competitions, with deadlines of 10th September and end October. Clearly there is not enough time to revise properly so I need to get started as soon as I can or face a difficult decision: Whether to forget the competitions and focus on finishing the novel to the best of my ability or do a rush job (including reducing word count from 110k to 80k) and hope for the best.

What are your views on dragons in literature?

Have you ever had to rush revision to hit a deadline? All advice gratefully received. 

This interview with Christopher Paolini contains some great advice for writers.

Beta Readers

Apologies for my silence, to those of you who are kind enough to follow my novel writing exploits. As well as drying out my soggy soul in sunny Italy for a few days, I have spent weeks immersed in major editing of my WIP Pictures of Love.

It seems the nearer I get to pressing save on my final draft, before sending it to my lovely beta readers, the more I feel compelled to rewrite the whole bloomin’ thing from the first page.

I understand the need for my novel to be the best it can be before going out into the world at large. But how polished does it need to be for beta readers? I mean, what if I spend hours filling in all the extra bits of back-story for a secondary character only to be told she adds nothing to the plot?

Or – my biggest fear, certainly in my academic days – what if I remove something, only to have someone suggest it’s exactly the thing that is missing for them? Do I take out the long words – as has been suggested – when I know most of my readers will understand and expect them? Most importantly, do I take out the sex?

I have one sex scene, right at the beginning, to show my main character’s relationship is based only on lust. There is no more sex after that, well none shown explicitly. What if I set the expectation that it’s an erotic novel when it’s nothing of the sort?

Sigh.

I knew writing novels was going to be hard but, like parenting, it’s hard in all different places to the ones I expected.

Making the goal visible: Self-Publishing, Book Covers and the Blurb

Proposed book cover for my WIP

I’ve read a few blogs recently on the topics of self-publishing, designing your own book cover and writing your book blurb.

It got me thinking.

Maybe what I need, to help me get to the end of my final revisions, is a nice visual goal. So I’ve wasted several days of precious writing time pulling together a book cover for either paper print or e-book publishing.

 I haven’t actually decided yet whether I am going to go down the self-publishing route or continue with the plan of applying to agents. I admit I still tend towards the latter, for two very important reasons.

1. I cannot afford to hire a professional editor, and I am terrified of publishing something full of grammatical or typing errors.

2. I am rubbish at self-promotion. I have set up various ventures in the past, all of which required me to sell my talents, and I know already that I’d rather pull out my own teeth.

I could add a third barrier, but it is one that should be surmountable, if I can get enough enthusiasm to do it, and that is the need to fill the gaping hole in my knowledge about social media. From everything I have read, promoting your book on social media sites and building up a following are both essential if you want to sell your book to more than family and friends. I can just about negotiate my way around Facebook, but even that is a challenge. I’m far too young to be such a Luddite, but there you are. I need the kids to grow a bit, so they can teach their old mum a few tricks!

I cannot describe how many hours it took me to find a photograph that encapsulated what I wanted to say about my novel. I wanted to catch the eye, to make sense of the title, but not give anything away about the plot. (I hate spoilers.) And I wanted to be able to afford it. The first image I fell in love with was about £80 for the size I needed, in case I have it printed. This one, thankfully, was considerably less. Thank you www.dreamstime.com

If you are interested in creating your own book cover, Keri Peardon has some very useful lessons on her blog: http://keripeardon.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/how-to-make-your-own-book-cover-lesson-5/. I use Photoshop Elements (currently on a free 30-day trial which would be plenty for getting your book cover done).

As for the blurb, I’m sure I will do a few more re-writes before I’m happy. It’s not an easy thing, getting someone interested in your story without giving any key plot points away (did I mention, I hate spoilers?) 

There has been an interesting discussion on blurb agony over on Keri Peardon’s fab blog. Definitely worth a look.

Anyway, diversionary activity over, time to get back to editing, with my lovely new book cover to inspire me (if I can just resist the urge to tweak the colours, layout, font, text, images….)

Other great links:

http://keripeardon.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/7-reasons-why-e-books-are-great/

http://catherineryanhoward.com/self-printing-home/self-printing-posts/ (Catherine is currently offering her book on self-publishing – The Best of Catherine – Caffeinatedfree on www.amazon.co.uk. Go check it out.)