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Category: writing

Long time no see!

Wow, talk about an abandoned blog. My last post is about two years old and that says a lot about my recent writing progress. Life happened and writing wasn’t really a priority – but I’ve been itching to do something all the time. And felt guilty for failing to do anything.

Now I think I can find some daily time again and want to get some serious bichok action going. 🙂

I’ll keep you posted.

Cheers,

Helge

I will publish Sky High for free on Wattpad!

Yes, you read that right. I will publish my book, Sky High, which I published one year ago, for free on Wattpad.

Of course I’ll not just dump it all in one go. I’ll be posting new chapters every Friday, and with a chapter length anywhere between 1000 and 2000 words, I expect to take a few months short of a year to finish. But let me explain what made me take this step…

After the release “hype” wore off, and all indie reviews of my book were posted, the already small sales numbers completely cut off. I think I’ve sold one copy since last April. Two at most. I’m not even getting Kindle Unlimited page reads. Which means that right now, nobody is reading my book. That’s a real shame, because I think my story is great! (If you haven’t read my book yet, you’re missing out!)

When I first published Sky High, I posted the equivalent of the free Kindle eBook sample to Wattpad – which was a bit less than the first six chapters – so people could get a taste of my writing and the book, even if they didn’t own a Kindle. Nobody on Wattpad took notice until a couple of months ago. Out of nowhere I slowly began getting reads, votes and comments. At first I was amused by this development – and of course delighted – but unfortunately it didn’t change a thing about my sales numbers. But when I reached 500 reads and almost 50 votes I began to wonder whether I should take advantage of this trend and ride the wave.

I’ve spent some thought on this over the past couple of days and I’ve come to the following conclusion: Realistically speaking, I’m not going to be able to live off of my writing anytime soon. Publishing my book for free won’t hurt my sales because they’re non-existent anyway. I much rather have someone read and enjoy my book, and maybe remember my name in the future when I sell my next book. So I’m calling it an experiment and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll be sure to let you know. Maybe I can win some reader this way. 🙂

So, as I said: I’ll be posting new chapters of Sky High every Friday on Wattpad. You can find the book here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/59142778-sky-high (Of course I’ll keep reminding my readers that they don’t have to wait for the next chapter. They can read the whole book anytime by purchasing it from Amazon. 🙂 )

I’d love to hear from you – either here or on Wattpad.

Cheers,

Helge

Elyse and Writers of the Future – Conclusion

On December 3, 2015, I received an email with the title “Your 4th Quarter WOTF Entry” and the following content:

Dear Entrant,
Your story has been judged and is an Honorable Mention for the 4th quarter. (entry between 1 July through 30 September 2015)
Congratulations!!!

[…]

Best regards,
Joni Labaqui

I won an Honorable Mention!!

But wait… what exactly does that mean?

I researched a bit and it looks like the grades they hand out are as follows: (source)

  1. Winner
  2. Finalist
  3. Semi-Finalist
  4. Honorable Mention (Quarter Finalist)
  5. Nothing

To put this into perspective: (source)

Honorable Mentions are between 5 and 15 percent each quarter. It depends on how many good stories there were.

This is actually really great. Even though I have “only” gotten to the first step on the ladder, my story is part of a select few! David Farland, the head judge of Writers of the Future, recently blogged about Honorable Mentions: (You can read the post here)

But maybe it’s not a grand prize winner. Maybe it’s an Honorable Mention. Honorable Mentions are my way of saying, “You’re writing almost at a professional level, but this one didn’t quite do it for me.” Or better yet, “I’d really like to see more from you. Keep trying!”

I think that is rather encouraging! 🙂

 

There were some issues which I am still trying to sort out with Joni. One of them being that my name is missing from the list of Honorable Mentions of the 4th Quarter. She’s busy organizing the big awards ceremony right now, but she promised to look into it afterwards.

Since receiving the result of my entry, I’ve sent Elyse off to sell it to a big magazine. It’s still pending – and I think it will still be a long while before I get an answer – but I hope they like it. 🙂

Cheers,

Helge

Sky High Paperback available!

After waiting for what felt like ages for the proof copy of my book, I corrected some minor mistakes and now the moment has come: The paperback version of Sky High is available on Amazon!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, please use this link: https://www.createspace.com/5891922 (I get more royalties if you buy it from this link, instead of Amazon’s site 🙂 )

I have contacted several indie book review blogs and several agreed to write a review. However, their reading queue is quite long, so it’ll still be a couple of months before they get to review Sky High. In the meantime you can see what other’s think about my book on Goodreads.

Please let me know whether you liked the book and rate it on Goodreads. And please be honest in your opinion. 🙂

Sky High eBook out now!

I’m excited to announce that the eBook version of Sky High is out now!

My editor finished reviewing the book last week, and I worked hard on incorporating the changes. Today I finished the interior design of the book and Amazon was really quick in processing everything. They just shipped the proof copy of the paperback edition and it should arrive in two days. Once I have confirmed that it looks good, it should be available for ordering in no time.

In the meanwhile, you can already order the eBook here:

By the way: I enabled Sky High for Amazon MatchBook: If you already own a paperback copy, you may purchase the eBook for only $0.99.

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂 Let me know your thoughts, by email or in the comments below.

Sky High Book Cover Preview

I recently finished the cover design for my new book, Sky High. Here is a preview of what it will look like:

Sky High Book Cover
Sky High Book Cover

After careful consideration, I decided to have my book copy-edited professionally and I’m currently waiting on the editor. I can’t wait to see it finally published!

I hope you like the design! Let me know in the comments or by email.

It’s done!

Last Sunday I finished the second version of Sky High’s draft, and I already sent it to my alpha readers. Time for celebration! 🙂

Yes, you read correctly: That’s the second draft and I sent it out. So, how does this fit the revision process which I said I’d follow here?

Let me rewind a bit.

About two weeks ago, I bought the NaNoWriMo story bundle – a great wealth of resources on how to write, which I can only recommend. I started by reading Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys. He breaks down the essential elements, which make up a story, into a very easy structure. His down-to-earth pragmatic approach to writing, and making a living from your writing, appeals strongly to me.

Next, I chose Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith. The book is actually a polished version of a series of posts he has up on his blog. You can read them online here, as well as his second book, Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing.

Dean also has a very pragmatic approach to writing, which is very similar to Algis Budrys’ – and that’s probably not a coincidence, since Algis was Dean’s mentor. These two posts resonated most with me:

Speed: Writing Fast is Bad:

After finishing NaNoWriMo in 2014, I was wondering: If I can write almost 2000 words in about 2 hours per day, how come big writers publish only 1-2 books per year? The numbers just didn’t add up – especially looking at grand masters like George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss, who take years to finish a book. I wasn’t able to get a satisfying answer and concluded that these people probably spend a lot of time on book tours and other promotional events.

Therefore, reading this chapter was a revelation. 🙂

Rewriting:

Brandon Sanderson once said – I believe it was on Writing Excuses – that it took him so long to become published because during his initial years he never edited his books. So, naturally, I assumed that this is what I had to do: edit and rewrite.

Dean has a valid point, though: When you’re creating new content, you’re working from the creative side of your brain, whereas when you’re editing you’re working from the critical side. And the critical side is just not as good at creative tasks as the other half. So when you edit, you’re basically submitting your work to all the rules and assumptions you’ve picked up during your life. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a bland mush, and nothing of your style – nothing remarkable, which makes your work stand out from others – will be left.

You still have to review your writing, for consistency and spelling mistakes etc., but Dean recommends you don’t rewrite unless you’re getting paid for it. His reasoning is simple: Instead of wasting all that time trying to make the perfect book, you could be creating new assets – new stories.

I love his pragmatic reasoning, and his approach to writing is very appealing to me. I have to admit that I was demotivated by the prospect of having to revise my story 8 times. And the idea of rewriting it doesn’t seem fun – especially after seeing that I really like what I have written. So I decided to work from a 3 draft system, like Dean:

  1. Write the story
  2. Review for consistency and spelling/grammar mistakes. Then send to alpha readers
  3. Correct mistakes found by alpha readers, then publish / submit

 

So here I am. I decided to go for Indie Publishing and will now work on the book cover, and setting up everything else required to make my book available to readers.

Have any thoughts or comments? Send me an email or post here! 🙂

 

 

Sky High Update and Writing Resources

It’s been a while since my last post, and it’s been a while since I had time to work on Sky High. There’s a lot going on at work right now, and family events have kept me busy on the weekends. Therefore, today’s post will be rather short, so I can use the time to edit my book instead.

There’s a great offer up at http://storybundle.com/nano right now. For as little as $15 you get 13 (!) awesome books about writing. And for $10 more, you get all of last year’s NaNoWriMo storybundle-books as well. That’s 25 books for $25!

Go check it out! I did, and I have just read Writing To The Point by Algis Budrys. It somewhat changed my perspective on writing, and took away some of my worries about editing Sky High. 🙂

That’s it for today – I’ll get busy on Sky High now.

Sky High v1.0 done!

Can you believe it?? I never thought I would get here.

But somehow… it doesn’t feel as rewarding as I thought it would. I guess that’s because of all the work ahead…

Last week I wrote through the climax of Sky High and now I am done. Well, almost. I still need to write the dĂ©nouement. Since finishing the climax, I’ve been trying to find the motivation to continue, but all I could think of were the many, many things that I have to change. So I decided to call it quits here. I’ll write the dĂ©nouement when I’m done with the big structural changes.

So what now?

The things that come to my mind right now, when I think about the story, are all the issues and flaws. There are so many things that I want to revise. Most importantly: I clocked in at 64007 words. That’s 11000 words short of my (somewhat arbitrary) goal of 75000. It’s very short for a science-fiction novel, even if you consider it YA. And knowing myself… I fear that I rushed through the story and that I need to expand on some of the topics and scenes. If not all 🙂

Where do I start?

Brandon Sanderson has a video about revising a book on Write About Dragons, and I intend to follow his process. I find this scheme immensely helpful, because it breaks down the myriads of tasks into a very simple process to follow:

  • 1.0 Straight through beginning to end, taking notes as he goes on changes of direction that will need to be fixed in…
  • 2.0 Continuity edit, done immediately afterwards
  • [Brief gap]
  • 3.0 Polish for tighter language, cut about 15%
  • Send out to alpha readers (writing group, editor, agent, wife)
  • [6-month gap, during which time he takes notes on things to change]
  • 4.0 Incorporate alphas’ feedback and his own reflections
  • 5.0 Second polish
  • [Send to betas, fans etc. – not the same people as alphas – plus editor]
  • 6.0 Last fixes
  • 7.0, 8.0: copy edit and proofreads (polishes)

I have v1.0 right now, but I will probably add in a v1.5 (expanding the story) before doing v2.0. This is the first time I will be editing a full book. It’s a daunting task, but I really look forward to it!

Do you have any tips on editing? Let me hear about it in the comments or via email!