Archive for novel

Mostly about Beta Readers

Posted in Books, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Novel Process, The Novel Itself, The Novel Process, Writing with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2018 by tgmreynolds

I had hoped for a big weekend of writing but decided that naps were important, too. I managed to clear the 70,000-word hurdle, with 5 days left to reach 80,000, though. Yah. No problemo.

One of the harder parts of writing the first draft of a mystery novel is fighting the temptation to go back and forth to make sure all of the clues tie into each other and make sense. I’m trying to write the first draft straight through, and will use the first full reading to tear it all apart and fix the links and leads and herrings, both red and green.

Many writers find themselves working on one manuscript for many years because they can’t write forward when there’s fine tuning to be done. I won’t say that any one method is better than another, because each writer must walk their own path, but for ME, I am pushing to write the first draft hard and fast. The second draft will take almost as long, as I tighten it all up. Then it will go to beta readers (who are already picked, thanks), who then take a shot at tearing it apart and showing me what doesn’t work where or make sense at all. MY beta readers don’t get to read and say “That was nice. Thank you.” They get to beat the manuscript into a bloody pulp so that it can rise again like Wolverine, stronger and ready for battle.

IMG_2685.jpgBut again, that’s specific to me. If you’re ever asked to be a beta reader, please ask the writer what kind of critique he or she wants. Not everyone wants a full out attack on their darling manuscript. I do. That’s how I improve. That’s also why I am very picky about who I get to beta read my work. We need to be on the same wavelength. Even a dear friend can be on a different wavelength. Also, some beta readers are all about showing the writer how smart they are, when the only real goal is to make the story better, tighter, more vibrant.

The other key thing about the writer/beta-reader relationship is that the reader has to be willing to happily accept when the writer doesn’t take their advice. Sometimes the writer has a deeper cause they’re working toward, and suggested changes just don’t work.

This is not the same as the writer/editor/publisher relationship, though. If a writer has signed a contract and the publisher’s editor has said “You need to do ‘A'”, it behooves the writer to either do ‘A’, or to clearly explain why they they can’t. It’s a relationship, and the editor has to trust the writer’s vision, while the writer must trust the editors experience.

And that is my short, one-paragraph summary of the weekend’s writing.

Ciao for now,

T-Bone.

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Free for Kindle?

Posted in Books, Books Books Books, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Novel Process, The Novel Process, Writing with tags , , on September 16, 2014 by tgmreynolds

I know I’m going about this in the wrong order but I finally self-pubished my novel “The Broken Shield” as an eBook exclusively on Amazon for 90 days.

The Broken Shield by Timothy Reynolds

The Broken Shield by Timothy Reynolds

Very quickly, the reason for an Amazon exclusive was to have access to the Kindle Select features, which includes the ability to do a free giveaway for one to five days. This past weekend (September 13 & 14) I had a two-days-for-free giveaway of “The Broken Shield”. The book launched on July 21 for $2.99 and between then and August 23rd, a grand total of 22 eBooks sold. Then, for the next 20 days, not a single damned copy was downloaded. That’s right, not a one. But that’s okay, because 21 friends and family had already supported me. I bought the 22nd copy, back when it was the first copy. I knew the steam would run out on the book eventually, and it did.

So, zero sales for the 20 days leading up to this past weekend. The Kindle Select program requires a Kindle-exclusive for 90 days, but offers up, amongst other things, 5 days total of free giveaway. Not having done this before, I decided not to use up all 5 days at once, but rather go for the entire weekend. Two day of free. Another goal was to keep costs to zero, because there’s no point in spending a fortune in order to give something away. In order to promote this, I decided to only use social media. Facebook and Twitter are my go-to social medias, and even Twitter is seldom used, by me, at least.

This was my first post on Facebook:

Okay, Kindle-owners (and app-users)… My urban fantasy eNovel is now free! Go get it! If you read it and don’t like it, I will give you your money back, but only if you get it this weekend!

Where else will you find a history-bending adventure in which the hero has MS, hangs out with a whistling pixie, and can compare Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler and make sense? This is NOT satire. It’s a story of the battle for our souls, with plenty of fighting, some humour, and warning about all those security cameras you see around you.

From Lake Louise to Tasmania to Tokyo to London to Chile to Holland to Central Park and even Mecca… can you handle the adventure, the danger, the broken hearts, and the sacrifices made for us by complete strangers?

The response took a few hours, but then the downloads started. Throughout the course of two days I made 9 posts on Facebook and 4 tweets. I also kept FB friends, apprised of progress, and made sure to express all the gratitude I was feeling.

On Saturday, downloads kept climbing, andI kept posting. On Sunday, I cut way back on posting to see the difference between heavy whoring and mild petting when the price is zero.

So, what happened once the freebee ball got rolling? Saturday saw 79 copies downloaded. On Sunday, 29 kind souls went for the download thing. That’s 108 copies! But it didn’t end there, because wherever Amazon is based out of, there were a few hours of Monday which were still Sunday for everyone else. Three more copies were uploaded. 111 total. Wow.

That’s 111 new readers. One cool thing about Amazon is that it lets me get a breakdown of which Amazon online stores saw which numbers. It doesn’t tell if if two Amazon.com buyers were from the USA and one from Mexico, but it does tell me that two used amazon.com and one used Amazon.com.mx.

That said, here is how 111 downloads break down, by Amazon websites:

  • Amazon.com: 57 Saturday + 19 Sunday = 76 Total
  • Amazon.ca (Canada): 11 + 4 = 15
  • Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom): 9 + 3 = 12
  • Amazon.de (Germany): 2 + 3 + 1 Monday = 6
  • Amazon.com.au (Australia): 0 + 0 + 1 = 1
  • Amazon.com.br (Brazil): 0 + 0 + 1 = 1

 

And the next step is… Well, if this was just about selling/downloading, I’d move on to the next marketing tool, through Google or some such. But this is an experiment, a learning process. It’s sloppy experiment with no control group or true scientific method, but it’s still an experiment. The next step is to see if word-of-mouth can make any sales. Will anyone actually read it? Will they tell anyone else about it, and will any of those people buy the book now that the price has gone back up to the crippling $2.99USD?

“The Broken Shield” is a 101,000-word novel, so few people will read it in the next few days. When people do get around to reading it, not everyone will tell anyone or write a review. If they’re anything like me, they’ll take awhile to read it, and then they’ll forget to review it either on Amazon or on Goodreads, so I will remind them on a week or so.

My hope is that 20% will actually read it and maybe 25% of them will review it. That’s five or six reviews, and in the review world five favourable Goodreads reviews can start the ball rolling.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

In closing, here are the rest of the posts I put up on my Facebook wall and Twitter:

2: (Repeated on FB Author Page, too)  Money is just money, but a reader is someone you have touched with your words. My free-for-this-weekend promotion has just added 17 readers this morning. That’s as many as the total from July 21 to yesterday. I will make about $20 less in royalties, but 17 more people will now have a chance to join me in a story world where pixies are disguised as dogs, a Sasquatch is named Beauty, and the Shields of Light don’t just sacrifice their lives for us, they EACH do it over and over, for more than the last two thousand years.The Aussie link: (part of it is set in Tasmania!) US link (part is set in Central Park)
Canadian link (part is set in Lake Louise!)The UK link (part is set in London! 
3: It’s only available in English, but if your account is in Japan, here’s the link:  Part of it is set in Tokyo and one of the heroes is a Japanese woman living in South Africa.
4: Yes, my wall is full of my book today. It’s only a two-day promotion and I’m only using free social media to promote it. This is all part of my experiment, to see what can be done with a great story for little $$ outlay in marketing.
5: One last post before I leave you all alone and get some work done around the house…One of the favourite characters in The Broken Shield (free for Kindle today & tomorrow!!) with readers so far is Arvinder… a sassy, stylish, 2000-year-old gay East Indian living in London. You can call him any name you want, but don’t try to keep Arvinder from doing his duty for mankind—he’s a two-sword master and one of the deadliest people on the planet. Oh, and he has a wicked sense both of humour and style.
 
Phoenix

Phoenix

 6: I lied. A final book-whoring post for the morning, because people love dogs.This is Phoenix. She’s one of the heroines in The Broken Shield, and she’s not all she appears to be. Her story is free for Kindle today and tomorrow.
TWITTER:
1: Free eBook! 2 days only! Check it out! An urban fantasy novel with a hero with MS, and a smartphone app from Hell. (Amazon Link)
2: 1 Japanese heroine & brief scene in Tokyo, my (free 4 Kindle 2 days) eBook should be avail. in Japan (in English) (Amazon Japan Link)

3: And for Australians (and everyone else) today, my eBook for Kindle is FREE! (Amazon Australia)

Ciao for now,

Tim.

Writers and Editors

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it with tags , , , , , , , on January 21, 2012 by tgmreynolds

The hardest part about being a writer isn’t the writing (or it shouldn’t be), but rather the waiting for an editor to say “I LOVE IT!” or “Thank you sir/madam for your submission but your story/novel/haiku is not the right fit for us.”
To hell with instant gratification, I prefer instant REJECTION. Waiting to be rejected?! That’s nuts!

Yes, editors are busy, and yes, all submissions must be received before decisions are made so that the best COLLECTION can be created. I understand all that. I was an editor, too. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. 🙂

***

What I hope all the submission editors I contact understand is that a story may be my baby, but I’m not adverse to editor-suggested surgery to make my baby a better fit.

Literary Liposuction for the drawn-out ending? DONE!

Bookish Botox to fill in the historical flavouring? DONE and DONE!

Adjective Implants to lift the prose above average? Hell yah!

A Motivation Manicure to give the tale a more refined touch? Just tell me where and when!

Point of View Nip & Tuck? What are we waiting for?!

Writers not willing to make refinements might just have an overinflated view of the value of their work. Of course editors wanting to take a Flowers For Algernon-type tale and make it a space opera with Einstein-the-ape and a world-eating turtle who gains and loses intelligence need to be… well… use your imagination.

Just my collected and typed thoughts for the day before I actually pretend to get down to the task of writing.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

The Novel Process: START IT UP!

Posted in The Novel Process with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by tgmreynolds

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What we have here is a desire to communicate. I came up with the idea to create a novel completely out of blog entries and then I realized today that the process I go through will probably be as or more interesting than the novel itself. So this category, The Novel Process, will be some of what goes through my head as I brainstorm and futz around with the idea, trying to make it gel.

Tim Reynolds`writing tools

The Writing Tools of Tim Reynolds

THE CONCEPT:

I knew it was going to be notes from a young man to a young woman, but would they be…

…to a woman he is spending his life with

…or a woman he started to spend his life with but she died

…or a woman whom he knows (a coworker or roommate) but isn’t romantically involved with but wishes he were so he writes journal entries addressed to her that she probably won’t see

…or a woman he’s never met but has dreamed about and knows she’s out there

…or a woman he’s stalking?

You see my dilemma, I hope. The novel/journal could be written exactly the same for each of the situations, but his motivation will be different, varying from creepy to sad to loving and back to creepy.

Another question is how much do I tell the readers up front? Should they know where his head is at or will it be cooler if they have to watch as clues unfold? Also, is his writing to a dead woman too much of a cliche? Are the readers likely to quickly say “Oh, she’s dead. Boooooring.”?

Those are some of the questions I’ve asked myself. I also had to pick the right character name, the right location/setting, the right back story, so that it all works together in a believable tale all told through the journal entries.

HIS NAME:

Last name: Cotsan. First name: William. Why? Well, I think “Cotsan” is a nationality/culture-neutral name. Could be from a number of Western European nations and it’s not too difficult to pronounce. As a matter of fact, though, it’s an abbreviation of Cry Ourselves To Sleep At Night. I came up with idea when the main character/writer was definitely going to be a sad character in search of his dream woman. So, his name really means Will Cry Ourselves To Sleep At Night. I know, it’s cheesy. Whether the story is a sad one or not, I like the name and it’s going to stay… for now.

And HER NAME? Sara. Multi-cultural, but specifically Hebrew. It means “Princess”. It’s a strong name. Sara/Sarah was Abraham’s wife in The Old Testament.

SETTING:

Frozen Mountain Lake

Walking on the frozen lake at the resort.

A mountain resort. Why? because that’s what I know. I spent eight years living in one and I want to capture that lifestyle as the story unfolds. The resort will remain nameless, but it will be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of North America. Could be Canada, could be the US. I won’t be specific until it becomes absolutely necessary. For my friends and family and anyone who has lived there it will be quite apparent where the story is set.

HIS JOB:

Of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, the most unique was renting canoes on a glacial lake in the shadow of stunning mountain vistas while avalanches thundered in the valley. The winter half of the job included standing on the frozen lake next to the castle made of ice, dispensing hot chocolate and chatting with visitors to the area, stargazing and listening to avalanches thunder in the distance. So Will is a Canoe Wrangler, our nickname for a Sports Attendant.

Those are the first things I had to bounce around in my head before I could actually start writing the blog-novel.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

NEXT TIME: The title possibilities. This is where the brain storm becomes a typhoon. Not a pretty sight.

www.tgmreynolds.com

All Words & Images Copyright Timothy G.M. Reynolds.