The Queen of England: Coronation, a word cloud.

Ah, the fun and random part of my marketing process.  I kind of like to do a lot of things that make sense to me, but probably do little to nothing in the way of marketing (see, yesterday’s post).  Basically, it’s a way to kind of warm up the creative side of my brain (as it relates to selling a book, or maybe I’m just procrastinating on editing book #2, you be the judge). Case in point, I plugged the first two chapters of the book into a word cloud generator, just to see what would come up.

On the topic of abandoning books.

abandoning a book

This infographic stuck out to me recently.  For the longest time, I felt the responsibility (for lack of a better word) to finish any book I started (no matter how bad it was).  And then, in the last year, with a few exceptions, I sort of changed my outlook.  While I haven’t had the luxury of a library in close to ten years, I have been able to source free books through NetGalley, or daily Kindle deals.  (I’ll also admit that I’m a bit of a moody reader, and sometimes need to be in the right frame of mind to start and connect with a book).

Now, I tend to follow a pattern of giving a book at least 20% and if I’m more or less ‘checking out,’ then I pop over to Goodreads to see what others think.  I’m not sure why I seek out opinions, but for the most part, I usually find a reviewer who has the same impression I do (and then decide if I’m going to finish the book or skim it, or straight up ‘hate read’ — much like a ‘hate watch’).

So, are you a finisher?  Do you complete any book you start?  If not, what makes you put a book down?  For me, my biggest turn off is a lack of connection with the main character.  If I’m not engaged or straight up don’t care about their story, I just won’t read on.  Similarly, if a trope is played too hard, I also find that fairly off-putting.

The good and bad of The Queen of England: Coronation.

First of all, the book is finished!  Like, really and truly done.  I’ve sent it off to be formatted, which means publishing is imminent (I’m thinking August 1st, as I’ll be away at the end of next week and believe that it’s rude to my book to press ‘publish’ and then dash off to Amsterdam to ignore it for 5 days).

As I read through the Queen, I realize I wanted to complete a bit of mindfulness/reflection.  Throughout the process, I don’t think I’ve been as fair as I could’ve been to myself (or my book).  So, I’ve been writing novels since roughly 2004 or so.  And, let’s face it, my first efforts were a bit basic.  When I started the Queen, I specifically wanted to take on certain specific challenges.  Was I successful?  I guess only time will tell.

So, as someone who literally just finished reading this manuscript, what’s good?  What’s not-so-good?

  • Diversity!  When I started a book set in Victorian England, I knew this topic was going to be an uphill battle, however, I tried my best.  I’ve included a bi-racial prince, a young man with a disability (not that it slows him down in the slightest), a gay character, and a female love interest for my female protagonist.  Now, I realize I do not deserve any awards for adding these elements, but it was important for me to a least try and include something more obvious than a bunch of straight white people running around.  Future books will see other important characters of different backgrounds.
  • All the ladies!  While probably not entirely in line with historical accuracy, I wanted women to have positions of power (besides the obvious Queen of England).  Women of all ages drive much of the trilogy, and that was something I consciously decided on.  Don’t worry, the lads have their time, but women are mainly driving the (omni)bus.
  • It moves.  If there is a hallmark of my novels, it’s that they read ‘fast.’  I started reading my book on Wednesday (sent to my Kindle), and at close to 80,000 words (yes, a few too many for traditional YA, but that’s the beauty of self-publishing), I’m already 45% through (and this is having to stop every few pages for the most minor of changes).  While I’m sure there’s a subplot of two I could’ve tightened up, I think it would be easy to read this book in a day or two.
  • Growth.  I’d like to believe there is some development in a few of the characters (most especially the protagonist).  At a minimum, Queen Juliette is not the same person she is at the start of the book.
  • It’s engaging.  I think the book pulls an audience in.  Hopefully, it maintains their interest.
  • There are a few funny and memorable lines.  As an author, it’s always fun to stumble over a sentence and be all, “I wrote this?”

Now, certainly no book is perfect, and here’s what I think still needs work (even though I am totes going to get this thing published because enough already).

  • I wish more of my scenes passed the Bechdel test.  Even as hyper-aware as I am of it, and as much as I’ve tried to include women (of all ages and backgrounds), there are a number of scenes which don’t pass… At least in this book.  In Books 2 and 3 I do much better.  My defense — if I have any — lies in the fact that the Queen is mainly surrounded by men, such that when she is around other young women she has to get a few things off her chest.  I really can’t blame her.
  • I still love adverbs.  My undying love of many words that end in -ly can be seen as weak writing, but I can accept this fate.  Let’s just call it ‘my style.’
  • I will forever need work on my physical descriptions of characters.  Forever and ever.  It’s tough because I can picture them so well, but I guess readers can’t really see into my brain.  #authorproblems
  • More steampunk elements.  Having read a great deal of steampunk literature in the past two years, I know it can be done very well and that it can be quite distracting.  While my novel actually qualifies more as gaslamp fantasy, steampunk is a much more broadly known and accepted term.  I already fear the Goodreads reviews of ‘THIS ISN’T STEAMPUNK.’  While I do love the world building of some authors, for me, I feel the novel has a good balance of some alternate history, steampunk-ish details, and the supernatural.

Phew.  Okay, I’ll take today off and get cracking on editing Book #2 tomorrow!

Week by numbers.

Look at me!  Semi-regular posting!

It was a busy week and I’ve managed to accomplish quite a bit:

  • 1, completed synopsis (putting the book into treatment form is something I like to do before publishing…I still need the one-page version, but at 10 pages, I’m happy with the current version, which helped me realize a missing beat or two).
  • 1, completed novel (it’s on my Kindle and I’m reading it for any final fixes and spoiler alert, I’m totally falling back in love with my book — it’s going to be available just as soon as I can finish reading and get my formatter to finalize things)
  • 1, Facebook group started for my YA name, Courtney Brandt
  • 1, book trailer for the Queen (almost complete — don’t worry, I’ll share it with you when it’s done)
  • 1, website refresh and migration to new host (nearly complete)
  • 1, sister arriving from the States (in less than 12 hours)

‘Cooking’ a book.

I do love Chuck Wendig’s insights.  When I stumbled across on this (semi) recent post, it rang completely true with me.  For example, I currently have two novels which are ‘cooking’ — one, The Queen of England: Ascension (still not sure about this title, but I’m getting there) and two, A.U., an unwritten adult contemporary novel I would publish as Ann Benjamin.  These two projects are in very different stages of the writing process.  Book 3 of my trilogy is a finished rough draft (completed in May 2017).  I haven’t thought that much about it since the end of May.  I don’t plan on thinking about it again until maybe August, or even later.  I could look at it now, but I would rather push forward for the second draft of Book 2 (it just makes sense to go chronologically).  Does it mean I love Book 3 any less?  It does not.  Am I procrastinating a bit?  Sure, but I’ve got plenty on my plate at the moment and am happy to let the book more or less exist in my outer consciousness for awhile.

A.U. (working title) is an idea I came up with last year.  Like two other books, it’s really just floating around in my head.  I’ve verbalized the plot to a few people (who showed interest), but that’s as far as the process has moved.  I’ve managed to start pulling a few titles I need to read as research, and have thought of what the first chapter might sound like, but not too much more.  Although, funnily enough, I can already picture exactly what the cover of the book is going to be.  When will I start this one?  I do think I’ll get going at some point in 2017.  Perhaps, even, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo.

Mr. Wendig reveals that he’s had a project simmering for 3 years, which seems entirely fair.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Sometimes characters get in the way.  Or, as Elizabeth Gilbert explained once, sometimes ideas/creative energy are meant for other authors.  As entertained/successful as I want to keep my muse, I have to respect that ideas I have and have done nothing with might go back into the ether (including, but certainly not limited to the Count of Monte Cristo project, an adaptation I’ve had since roughly 2002).

Stephen King, in ‘On Writing’ uses the ‘put it in a drawer’ analogy for this theory.  Although I see other authors pushing out books with frightening speed, for me, I need books to go in the imaginary drawer (be it Google Drives or somewhere in my brain) for a certain amount of time.  I usually know when it’s time to come out.

(I totes look like this when I’m cooking (or writing)).

How long do you ‘cook’ creative projects for?  Do have one longer than 15 years?  Please make me feel better.