Cinnamon Serialization Update
Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Here’s one of the reasons for the delay:
Now that I’ve published 10 free chapters of The Truth About Cinnamon (when the original plan was to only publish 7), I’m going to take a break from that process for a little while. The 1-2 hours of time required to prepare each chapter every week is time I want to start devoting to my blog instead, at least for the moment. This is especially true since I’m not sure how many readers are actually reading the free serialized issues.
If anyone is out there, however, who’s been getting into the story, has finished all 10 chapters, and is clamoring for more, please do let me know. At that point, I’ll publish #11.
Paid Speaking Gig
My first paid speaking engagement was very well-received last Friday, and I had a fabulous time while meeting another room full of terrific people. The experience would have been fulfilling enough if that was the end of the story, but I also sold five copies of The Truth About Cinnamon while I was there. In addition, the majority of people in the audience said that they want to receive the press release for Separation of Faith when the time comes later this spring.
The day was a good one!
Making “a Living” from Our Writing
A few of you have been commenting this week on the difficult prospects for making even a marginal living from our writing. And I’ve been saying that there’s some truth to that concern for most of us who aren’t yet prolific celebrity authors.
But when you expand your thinking about “making a living” to include things like speaking engagements, advertisements on our websites and blogs, interviews for which we might be paid, and other avenues that are limited only by our imaginations, the money starts to add up.
The key, of course, as I’ve said so many times in this blog, is to first make sure we’re creating something of the highest quality possible. We need to be well-educated in all the basics and nuances of our craft, and we need to seek a lot of input, turning our work over to beta readers and professional editors for their critiques. Then we have to be open to the issues presented in those critiques, open and willing to invest the necessary time to make changes.
Once we have a product of the highest quality, a world of possibilities for making a living–with that product as a base–will open up to us. And making a living from our writing only begins with the royalties, if we’re inventive and creative enough to take some chances.
I’ll be on the lookout for articles that I can share with you on this subject.
Speaking of producing a quality product and mastering the elements of our craft, I’d like to spend a moment on an issue that surfaces with great frequency when I’m wearing my editor’s hat. That issue is the word “it.” If I had a dollar for every “it” I’ve seen in manuscripts, I wouldn’t need to worry about making a living.
Here are the two main problems with “it”:
- “It” doesn’t actually say anything or paint any pictures for the reader.
- A whole bunch of us, through sheer habit and an absence of awareness, overuse the word “it” to the point where what we’re trying to say/explain, or the imagery we’re trying to create, becomes completely diluted.
As an experiment, go to the beginning of whatever project you’re currently writing and do a Find function on the word “it” (making sure you specify that you’re looking for the whole word). Each time you click on Find Next, highlight the word “it” that pops up, excluding any “it” that shows up in a direct quote or in dialogue. Direct quotes can’t be changed, of course, and “it” in dialogue is okay because that’s the way people actually talk. The target should be “it” in any narrative.
You can do this experiement for as many pages/chapters as you like, and I promise you that you will be absolutely astonished at what you discover. You’ll have highlights all over the place!
The next task is to go back to the beginning and challenge yourself to rewrite every sentence containing “it” so that the sentence no longer contains “it.” What you will experience is the transformation of your writing from something that’s flat and uni-dimensional into something that’s three-dimensional and that creates vivid, living imagery.
For example (and I’m just making these up as I go):
- He was riding the horse, and it was extremely uncomfortable.
What was uncomfortable? The horse? The saddle? The bumpy leather on the saddle? The fact that there wasn’t any saddle but just the horse’s back? Can you see how “it” doesn’t say anything at all to the reader?
- It was a winter night.
Where’s the picture? The imagery? How about something like: By eight o’clock that night, the temperature had dropped into the teens, and the icy white streets had become treacherous. You don’t even need to say the word “winter,” because the words used paint the picture for the reader.
And that’s what our words are supposed to do. As the paint and brush are to the artist’s canvas, so are a writer’s words to the page. “It” is empty and colorless. Leave the word (and I use that term loosely here) out of your narrative writing.
Again, I just made up these examples, but you’ll find plenty of your own if you do the Find exercise. Believe me, I did many years ago–and the shock from what I discovered in my writing led to this issue being one of my biggest hot buttons as an editor.
If you have a minute, let me know what your experiments produce.
A Few Other Relevant Links
In my reading of late, I’ve run across a number of topics that are relevant to comments you’ve made, or to topics in my posts. Here are a couple of those that I thought might be helpful to you:
- “Finding the Perfect Book Editor” by Brooke Monfort: http://brookemonfort.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/finding-the-perfect-book-editor/
- “How to Make Your Novel a Page Turner” by Elizabeth Sims: http://www.writersdigest.com/article/how-to-make-your-novel-a-page-turner/
I’ll include references for you more in my next post.
Plan Update and Stats
The post-editorial review revised manuscript for Separation of Faith is currently with the publisher, undergoing the second editorial review. Stay tuned for the news on those results …
As soon as I finish this posting, I’m going to work on the reduction edit for The Truth About Cinnamon. Finally reaching the point where I can focus on that part of the plan is a great relief!
Regarding the Stats, this last week has been very interesting, particularly with respect to this blog:
- Hits on this blog: 1405 (1255 on March 2). This is a jump of 150, fueled by the 80 hits on Thursday, March 4. I’m trying to figure out what I did on that day so I can do the same thing again … 🙂 … Let me know if you have any ideas on that front.
- Hits on my website: 35,922 (35,795 on March 2). The jump of 127 is good but not as good as the 137 the previous week. Of course, until I get my next royalty statement, I won’t know how the increase in website traffic correlates to any increase increase in Cinnamon sales. You’ll be the first to know.
- As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to stress myself out with the Amazon ranking until the 2nd Edition of Cinnamon comes out (although I might take a peek periodically …)
Moving Forward–And I’m Beginning to Actually Feel the Movement
This blog was launched four months ago last Thursday. (Oh! Maybe that was one of the reasons behind the 80 hits …?)
Since then, my goals have become further clarified as I give voice to them through this medium. And tangible progress has been made now that Separation of Faith is with the publisher and will (hopefully) be moving into the production process soon with the Editor’s Choice designation. Plus, I’m now in dialogue with so many of you, who never cease to amaze me with your drive and creativity.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the Journey thus far, and I hope you are too.