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Archive for the ‘writing a novel’ Category

Creating a marketing plan

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As a writer, I think a lot about the various stages of writing.

I describe the time spent in these various stages in this way:

Creative Process (the writing, plotting, world-building and character-creation) –  10% of the time.

Editing Process (drafts after the first, grammar and spelling, refining of language and pace, checking character arcs, checking symbol recurrence, refining detail, working with editor and publisher) – 40% of the time

Marketing Process (interacting with publisher, launches and readings, selling books, book fairs, social media, advertising, writing blurbs and press releases) – 50% of the time.

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I am a planner, a bit surprised to say I have never created a plan for the marketing of my books. So this will be the next step in my writing career.

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two poetry books

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A little research has given me the main ingredients of a Marketing Plan:

  1. a summary for reference – pulls together the main points of the plan and states my marketing goals
  2. identification of customers – who they are and where to find them
  3. development of a unique selling point – a way to separate your product from others
  4. a pricing strategy – price of your product and timing of offers
  5. a distribution plan – how customers will buy from you

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In the next few weeks, I will think about and write down these components as they relate to my products: my books and paintings.

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Have you ever created a marketing plan and did it help you to meet your goals?

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Copyright Jane Tims 2018

 

segue

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segue

(verb) move without interruption from one song, melody or scene to another.

(noun) an uninterrupted transition from one piece of music or film scene to another.

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I am so happy today to be doing some creative work. For months I have been focused on edits and other work associated with my book releases. But today, I clicked on the draft of the fifth book in my Meniscus Series. And there are blanks in the writing! Places to add new ideas. A chance to create!
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Immediately, on a re-read, I identified a problem. Meniscus: Karst Topography follows two diverging (and then converging) story lines. From chapter to chapter, I switch from story line to story line, back and forth as many books do. However, in the draft, the transitions are sometimes quite abrupt. Instead, I want to help my reader by creating smooth changes from one story line to the next. I want to segue from one set of actions to another.
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Ways of creating smooth transitions, from chapter to chapter, action to action, or scene to scene:

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  • make sure the tone and rhythm of the writing are similar or appropriate in the transition. This may be particularly important since I am writing poetry. Sometimes, a smooth transition will occur because lines are of a similar length or number of beats, or because the tonal qualities of the poetry are similar. On the other hand, there may be places where an abrupt change is necessary to introduce an element of anxiety or surprize. I compare this to the background music in a movie, carrying the watcher from scene to scene, or changing abruptly to signal a crisis. In the following passage, the terse, rather short lines of Chapter 13 are focused on action verbs and are picked up by terse statements in Chapter 14:

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Madoline locks the door as she leaves.

Ignores the way to her cell

in the honeycomb.

Turns

towards the centre

of the city.

 

14.

Belnar throws down his pack.

“Not there,” he says.

“Big scandal afoot.

The cook gone.

Eighteen

unconscious

Gel-heads.

Nine dead

Dock-winders.”

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  • use a repeated idea or word to help transition the reader. An example might be the use of colour. Sometimes in movies characters are shown walking down a hallway, for example, and characters in the next scene are also walking down a hallway. In the following passage, the idea of swirling at the end of Chapter 1 is picked up by the word ‘confusion’ at the beginning of Chapter 2:

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Chill wind kisses cold rock.

Sweeps out, across the Darn’el.

Stirs desert and dust.

 

2.

Confusion in the village.

The women gone.

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  • have a character in the first scene think about a character in the second. In Chapter 9, the Dock-winder child Don’est remembers Kathryn and Chapter 10 takes us immediately to Kathryn in the Gel-head’s clutches:

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“And Kathryn

was a bedwarmer,”

says the Dock-winder child,

nodding, the wisp of a smile

on her thin lips.

Her knowledge

not appropriate

for her years.

 

12.

Kathryn waits in the cell

of the honeycomb.

Fiddles with a ring above her eye.

Tries to ignore confining walls,

paltry inflow of air.

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  • signal to the reader that something new is coming. If the location changes, name the new location to make sure the reader knows where the action is situated. In Chapter 7, Don’est, the Dock-winder child, reminds the others that she and the wolf-like Kotildi are also part of the community of Themble Hill. In Chapter 8, the action is taken far from the Themble Wood, in the city of Prell:

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Len, len.

And me,”

says Don’est.

“And tame Kotildi.

 

“Elan’drath

in the Themble Wood.

 

8.

Tal and Daniel in a room

as unlike the Themble Wood

as it is possible to be.

Del-sang ma’hath,

Acquisitions Tracking,

Prell.

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  • report on an event happening in the previous chapter. In the following passage, Odymn rocks the new baby in Chapter 22 and Vicki refers to the birth of the baby in Chapter 23:

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Odymn weeps when she sits with Malele

and rocks the tiny baby.

 

23.

“Fourteen days,”

says Vicki.

“Fourteen days

and we’ve made

no progress at all.

 

“Back in the Themble

Malele’s baby will have been born.

They will be wondering

if we will ever return.”

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So my first task in creativity is to look at each shift from one chapter to another and write in some segues. Sounds a little like editing to me!

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What do you think of the transitions I have written above? What devices do you use to make certain there is a smooth transition from one chapter to the next?

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Copyright 2018 Jane Tims 

Written by jane tims

February 7, 2018 at 10:26 am

from a first drawing to a final cover

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This month I completed publication of the third book in my science fiction series. I published my books with CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and have loved the outcome. I also chose to use one of the CreateSpace templates for my covers, an efficient choice but one that let me easily download my own painting image for each cover.

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As a sort of retrospective, I think it is interesting to see the progression of the three covers, from drawing to painting to cover (all paintings are photography of J.D.R. Beaudoin):

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The next book in the series, Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill, will come out in January 2018. Seems a ways away, but time to start working on the cover. This cover may change in overall design but will feature the moons in the background with poor Odymn tumbling through the trees. This is the black and white drawing I will work from.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

a map to go with a story

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Since I began to read, I have loved to have a map included in the book – the more detailed the better!

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The maps that come to mind include the five maps of Middle Earth and the detailed map of the Shire in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings (Methuen Publications), the maps of Great Britain and Wales inside the front cover of Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave (William Morrow and Company, Inc.), and the map of Martha’s Vineyard accompanying all of the books in Philip R. Craig’s Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries (Scribner). Although books in the mystery and fantasy genres often have maps, almost any book can include a guide to the geography of the book.

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the completed GIMP map for Meniscus: South from Sintha … every feature has its own layer so I can add a tree, delete a path, or add a house to a village!

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When I began my Meniscus series, I knew a map was needed. I needed it, to help me plot the story and action!

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At first I thought I would do a hand-drawn map and make changes as needed. Foolish girl! I would have been drawing maps forever. I have included a new map with each book, showing the path taken by the characters and any new features they find in the landscape. Fortunately I chose GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free on-line app similar to Photoshop Pro. I had never worked with GIMP before, so I took the time to learn the system and I still have trouble with those ‘paths’. The system produces maps in layers. I can have a map for each kind of tree in the forest, a map for the grasslands, one for the villages and cities and so on.

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This week I started plotting for the seventh book in the series (two are now published and the third is expected out next week). I have told all the stories I care to (for now) for the first map (Map of Prell-nan South District, Meniscus), so I have been working on the landscape of Prell-nan North District.

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I first designed this map at the laundromat. Laundromats are the best place to read and write and think. No one bothers you and there is a set time to work. Many of the details of the map will change but it shows the basics of the portion of planet Meniscus I am building.

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a very draft map of Prell-nan North District, Meniscus … the features on this map will be continuous with the map of the South District … the original map is 4″ by 3″  … I drew on what I could find!

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I have now finished most of the layers on GIMP. I still need to label the various features and tidy up some of the layers. Now I can use the map to help me plot the journey of my characters and their actions!

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the first draft of the map on GIMP … I love creating all those little trees!

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Be watching for the next book in the Meniscus series! Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb tells the continuing story of Odymn and the Slain, and gets them through a brutal winter on planet Meniscus! Their love story and adventures continue with some new characters.

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

 

my eraser is my friend

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I spent a quiet morning drawing a new image for the fourth book in my science fiction series.

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Meniscus: Crossing The Churn and Meniscus: South from Sintha have been published. I am now waiting for editing and a proof of Meniscus: Winter by the Water-climb (to be published in July). In the meanwhile, I have some time to continue work on the fourth book, Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill.

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The Village at Themble Hill is the most tragic of the four books to date. Odymn, sometimes reckless, breaks her leg and then falls from a tree. How did she get in that tree and will she survive?

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I am the first to admit my drawings are not perfect. I have no specific training and my hand does all the work so it takes all the blame. However, I love to draw. It is engrossing and being able to illustrate my own books has helped me tell my stories.

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I begin by reading the text of the story to choose a scene I want to illustrate. I usually have the composition of the scene securely in my head as a result of the writing. Then I pose my little wooden model, find some photos to help me with the human form, and get to work. I have decided to show you the stages for a particular drawing.

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In this scene, Odymn and the Slain have decided to explore The Fault, to make sure there are no unknown ways for the Gel-heads to gain access to the new Human settlement. The Gel-heads have invaded before, carrying off prisoners and trying to murder those they leave behind.

 

The Slain pulls his map from his pack.

Yellowed vellum. Corners worn.

Ink marks gloss the edges.

The Slain’s finger follows The Fault.

 

“We’ll go scouting,”

he says. “Make certain

there are no other stair-steps

carved in rock.”

 

“No other water-climbs,” says Odymn.

 

She hears what the Slain does not say.

He tires of life in Garth —

rules, duty rosters

and expected conversation.

 

“When do we leave?” says Odymn.

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I begin with a quick sketch to establish the position of my characters. I use a 2B pencil and eraser. I think the eraser is the most useful of my drawing tools!

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Then I start to consolidate the lines and sketch in some background.

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The next step is to establish some of the shadow in the drawing. As you can see, a Q-tip is almost as important to me as the eraser!

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Odymn is always the easiest to draw. She is a bit quirky, so her facial expressions mask her beauty. The main challenges are her hair and her nose which always tries to develop a hook.

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The last thing I draw is the Slain’s head. He is a most difficult character/subject. I always get him too young or too old, too dark or too light. Sometimes he insists on looking a bit like a caveman!

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The final drawing is almost exactly the scene I saw in my head. Odymn and the Slain look a little uncertain about what they will find on their adventure. As you can see, when you use an eraser, you also need a brush to shoo the eraser bits away without smudging the drawing.

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With a few minor edits, this drawing will accompany this part of the story in The Village at Themble Hill. The Slain and Odymn will have some dangerous adventures as they travel along The Fault.

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What do you think of my process and my final drawing?

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

 

Independent publishing – editing

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During the past two months, I have been working on the second in my sci-fi series. Meniscus: South from Sintha tells the continuing adventures of Odymn and the Slain. This is a story of redemption. Odymn wants the Slain to undo his past wrongs, but can he ever return his ‘acquisitions’ to their homes?

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To edit this book, I have used all the methods at my disposal: edits in Word, read-throughs of printed .PDF files, and reviews of the virtual book on CreateSpace. I also follow advice of an editor, Lee Thompson (Lee Thompson Editing +), and pay attention to the comments of my beta-readers.

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This time I tried one more method, a great boost. I ordered ‘proof’ copies of the book and sent a couple of these to beta-readers. And I used the ‘proof’ as my own mark-up version. I ordered a ‘proof’ for the first book as well, but only after all comments were in.

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For South from Sintha I used the proof to record all comments and edits. Having the book in hand to do this step has been so much easier. I have given myself permission to scribble and revise and add details, and I am now ready to download the file to generate another proof.

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This adds a few steps to the CreateSpace process, but I have already seen the rewards.

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img_4341
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Meniscus: South from Sintha will be available in paperback and Kindle by mid-May. I am so eager to hold both finished books in my hands!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 1, 2017 at 7:35 am

Winner … what is ‘beelwort’?

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I am happy to announce the winner of my contest ‘What is beelwort?’ Beelwort is a mysterious item mentioned in the first book of my Meniscus sci-fi series — Meniscus: Crossing The Churn. My books give only small hints about the nature of beelwort: it get slipped into pockets as a joke and, although edible, is not very palatable.

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The winner of the contest is Allan Hudson. Allan is the editor of the South Branch Scribbler, an on-line blog exploring the arts. Every week Allan posts an article, guest blog or question and answer session about an author, musician or artist.  Have a look at http://allanhudson.blogspot.ca/ The blog includes some interesting insights into the process of writing and the methods of some well-known authors.

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Allan’s answer to the contest defined beelwort as ‘… an edible, hallucinogenic fungus only found on Meniscus …’  To this, I will only add ‘rather squishy’. Beelwort will finally be defined, using Allan’s definition, in Book Five of the Meniscus series — Meniscus: Karst Topography. Also, Allan will receive a postage-paid copy of my first poetry book within easy reach, poems about eating wild edible plants (available at http://www.chapelstreeteditions.com or on Amazon).

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Meniscus: Karst Topography (I took geology as a minor in university) is in draft form at present. However, the first book in the series — Meniscus: Crossing The Churn — is now available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B06XPPNCGF/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Meniscus: Crossing The Churn is a science-fiction adventure/romance describing the meeting of Odymn and the Slain. Written as a long poem, it is a book about loss, freedom and relationship. The remaining books in the series will bring new characters into the mix and tell a story about building companionship, family and community on a dystrophic planet where even casual contact between humans is discouraged.  Don’t let the poetry format put you off! The tale is told in short lines, written as concisely as is possible to tell a story!

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Thank you to Allan for entering the contest! Your book within easy reach is in the mail!

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Belnar, one of the characters from Book Two is into the honey mead, but he could be eating beelwort!

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

 

 

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