Sunday, January 30, 2011

A first draft the second time around

Ahhh ignorance is bliss!  I started my first draft of my current obsession so ignorantly.  I just thought I'd have a shot at writing a story.  It wasn't meant to be for any except my eyes and maybe my friends (who inspired characters).  And it was fun!  I didn't take it too seriously for the first, oh, like five months?  Then as I worked through a plot (I'm a plotter, always have been - I even plot and 're-run' my daydreams ;p) it occurred to me that.. it might be good!?!
Then I threw myself into writing and when I was halfway through my intended plot I realised I'd already written a book.  Which was how, after a some intensive re-planning it became a trilogy.  And now I'm onto writing the first draft for book two, current working title 'Awakening'.

OMG is it hard ;p I managed to knock out the first chapter last week and I'm almost at the end of the second… and I really wanted to have the first five chapters done by the end of this weekend.. which probably won't happen (unless I can type like roadrunner runs… FAST).  Why am I finding it so hard?  Because I know how insignificant the first draft is in the scheme of things.  The difference between my first draft of The Arrival and the final version that's now published is huge. 
It really is like starting with a dirty hunk of rock and polishing it to a beautiful diamond.  After the end result you just can't believe it started off so dirty and unidentifiable! 

So starting at the beginning again is both liberating and depressing.  Liberating as I FINALLY get to continue the story and depressing because pretty much all that I'm currently writing will be re-written.  It's also rather mind spinning as I try to put all I want to into one book… sometimes I think I should have made it five books!! The Arrival covers just over a 'month' in the girls lives and Awakening is going to cover close to a year - making everything fit is migraine inducing!
But it must be done and it will.  And after seeing how The Arrival turned out I've no doubt that this one will be even better *grin*

Onwards and upwards!

And funny pics always help.  Always!



   


Friday, January 28, 2011

The frustrations of writing

You would think an indie author who has only had their book available for the last 23 days and has made just over 100 sales would be satisfied.  Perhaps delighted.  Really they should be utterly delighted.

You may have noticed I have a bit of a one track mind when it comes to what I want.  I don't believe in failure, I do believe hard work brings results.  I absolutely know that The Arrival, and the BirthRight trilogy, will be an utter success.  I will make it that way.  I know the story is fantastic and no, there is no self modesty here.  I worked damn hard on this story.  Now I just find it incredibly frustrating because I want it to be selling well without having to do anything. 
Such a silly thought I know, but it'd be really nice ; p

Now I will start on book two.  I do have lots of plotting I want to do but I think I can safely write the first maybe five chapters without affecting the plot in any major way.  Because I use my method writing technique a lot of my plotting is done in my head so if I begin the draft now I can run through it a few times and see how it works.  And I'm hoping it will help me to relax as I make my way into the story.  I really can't wait to see what happens next.  I know the major plot points, that's never been an issue.  But some of the minor plot points are going to be very exciting.  And I think that's why I'm so desperately wishing that The Arrival would just take off.  So I don't have to think about that anymore! 
I'm just been lazy really, everyone needs to work the self promotion line no matter what they do in life.  I guess I just wish I didn't have to have a day job at the same time *lol*

So what's making you grind your teeth at the moment?  Dealing with winter?  Stagnant ideas?  Frustrating work mates *grin*.  Life has it's ups and downs.  Stop focusing on the small picture and see the end result you want.

'What you think about, you bring about'

And on that note would anyone like me as a guest blogger?  I'm looking for new ways to reach people so if anyone out there wants an interview/random amusing blog let me know!  If you'd like to do a review on The Arrival flick me an e-mail and I'll send you a free copy J n.macdonald00@gmail.com

Take care everyone!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

OMG!! Thank you all so very much!

I was really joking when I said about hitting the top 100 - sure I'd LOVE for that to happen but... who knows?  Then after all your help yesterday my ranking on Amazon has gone from 66,000+ to 2,500 - so much closer to the top 100 I nearly wet myself in excitement *lol* I can't believe it!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  
I'm off for a two day holiday in Auckland shortly and I'm both nervous and excited at what may possibly await when I get back *grin* OMG!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Special Announcement!

And one where I appeal for your help too : )

I have dropped the price (temporarily) of The Arrival to .99c
I'm hoping that this will give enough of a boost to sales to get more attention to the book. And I'm dreaming that it will suddenly appear on the top 100 *giggle* Who knows, anything is possible.
And I'm just asking that anyone who wants to (not been pushy *grin* I won't snub you if you don't ;p) pop an announcement with this picture on their blog/facebook/twitter/goodreads etc about the price drop. I would SO appreciate it!

Many thanks all and have a great day! (and it looks like we may have a router next week and we just sold the one we bought with a minor profit - *yay*)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

…so I really spoke too soon yesterday..*sigh*

The router arrived and it turned out it was a router and modem in one. Nothing wrong with that - that'd be awesome actually, less junk! Except it's wired for ADSL… and we have DSL.


For those who are wondering what the heck all that means, ADSL means your internet is through the phone line and DSL means it's cable. In New Zealand we only have one provider in each (Telecom - ADSL - and Telstra Clear - DSL) and if you want an internet connection speedy enough to watch things you have to get Telstra… which we have! So yeah wrong router and we've popped it on trade me (nz version of e-bay) while we look for another one…

*Sigh*

So I am still without the net.. Oh well lots more time to focus on plotting *grin* Damn that Murphy's Law - I totally spoke too soon *lol*

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you seen my new page? E-book formatting for dummies

Not to suggest that any of you are dummies *grin* but after the fight I had with formatting (and now success!  It has achieved Smashwords premium status!) I thought I'd like to help anyone else in the same position.  The page runs through the process as I did it so I'm not suggesting this is THE way to do it but it may be able to help you if you're stuck.  
Also as mentioned on the page I have a 'clean' base document for people to start with which I'm very happy to e-mail out.  So if you're in the midst of formatting and find yourself stuck, or you know someone who's stuck let them know about my page.  It might help!

Murphy's Law

The router finally arrived! Of course it arrives today (Monday) and you just know it's been sitting at the post office allllllll weekend *sigh* oh well. It's here now! And that's all that matters. Finally I will be properly connected to the net, instead of skulking around, waiting for Glenn to go the loo or have a cigarette so I can pounce on his PC *grin*. It's been a very busy weekend for my gmail this weekend too. I've been getting to know the Kindle forums as another method of advertising and getting my book 'out there'. Though let me warn anyone considering this.

DO NOT MENTION YOUR BOOK!!

Seriously they skin indie authors alive on those forums. So the only way you can 'advertise' your book is by putting a link to it under your name when you sign off each post. This way it's inoffensive and it also means you have to be talking about what ever the post is on. I do understand how annoying it is when a newbie gets on and starts shrieking 'buy my book - its amazing!' (I have seen posts like this on the forums. You can tell which ones they are as the other forum readers hit the 'ignore' buttons enough times that Amazon hides the offensive post). But I've also noticed authors recommend their book because it suits the discussion. Which I personally think is fine. Others however don’t. So I've just had fun chatting with other posters about what-ever the thread is about.

Then I noticed an interesting thing. Threads that were headed 'free e-books to first 20' etc. I popped on for a look and discovered that this is the acceptable way to advertise. Basically you start a new thread offering so many free copies to whom ever responds and then the posters that normally want to skin you, are suddenly your best friend. Sounds very high schoolish doesn't it?

Now I have to stress here that the majority of the people I've chatted with on the posts are lovely. It's just that there is a very obvious group of posters who want to take Indie authors DOWN! And it's a bit of a shock as it's the first time I've come across it. No it wasn't directed at me but I found a thread titled 'A dark cloud in forums' (okay can't remember exact title - but it was close to that) where all the posters just put up vicious, nasty comments about Indie authors. Bleah.

Anyway! Back to the free books. I had a look at a few threads offering free books and remembered Joe Konrath saying that giving away free copies in no way affected his sales, in fact they increased them! So I decided to give it a shot.

I started a thread offering 50 free copies and figured it might run all weekend..

Oh how wrong I was!

As much as they detest Indie authors they love free giveaways! I'm not joking, in the first hour that thread went up I had over 100 e-mail requests (course I didn't know this till I got home and checked my g-mail..) and I was delighted!

I have to say thanks to those who responded and actually read the blurb and review and asked for it because they were genuinely interested in reading it. I realize I'm just an indie author but I have to say the emails that came through with 'book offer' and nothing else urked me. Maybe I'm being over sensitive but really if you're going to express interest in something - then EXPRESS GENUINE INTEREST!!

Ahh what's the point?  As the title of the blog post states it's really one of those 'murphy's law' things. I just hope that a couple of the people who received the free copy do read it and love it *grin*

And the book is selling at least two copies a day which is an increase from 1. So hey! On my way to full time writing…*lol*

Friday, January 14, 2011

Darwin Award for January - Barrel Ride, With Flames!

2010 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin

(19 July 2010, Washington) Thanks to Skagit Raceway, the town of Sedro-Woolley (pop. 10,000) fills with racing folks. During the American Sprint Car Series, two crew members--smart people with a high degree of mechanical ability--were working at a custom machine shop when they dreamed up an unusual thrill ride. The men put a a 55-gallon barrel in the parking lot, poured in four gallons of methanol, sat on top of the barrel, and lit the bunghole!

Apparently they thought the barrel would skid across the parking lot like a rocket, with a tail of flame shooting out, and two rodeo clowns sitting on top waving their caps and wooting! But instead of sliding across the pavement, well, let's just point out that four gallons of methanol in a 55-gallon drum greatly resembles a bomb.

The barrel blew up beneath them with enough force that the end of the barrel landed 120 feet away. The two inspired Sparks* landed in Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where one man lost his life. The other survived with a sobering lesson on the power of internal combustion.

Working on a race car is a bit risky, but this was not a work-related shop accident. Rather, it was a dangerous and ill-conceived stunt by two bored men who were hoping to find some fun in a small town. Dear readers, please learn from the mistakes of others. You don't have time to make them all yourself!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unfathomable

Okay so I'll confess to being a little self centered over the last month with getting my book up. And rather demanding when it comes to reviews *blush* so many thanks to those who've posted some. But then yesterday as I was furiously working away on some thoughts a news report finally got through to my brain.

I knew there is flooding and major bush fires in Australia at the moment but I hadn't really 'connected' all those thoughts together yet - you know what I mean?

Anyway I wondered why when I heard the news update the name 'Ipswich' kept echoing in my head. Then I remembered with a bit of a jolt, that I'd been speaking to my friend Pixie via Skype last week. She and her fiancé had very recently moved to Ipswich for more affordable housing as they complete their medical training.
Have to say my stomach was doing some pretty big cartwheels as I hurriedly got onto Facebook.

I am relieved to be able to say she's okay. But their house is gone. The comment that caught my eye had been posted 14 hours earlier and said,
'We've just left - it's at shoulder height'
Then reading the river levels vary from .5 - 2meters and then up to +4. It's just insane.
 Flooding is certainly not new to me and mine - we've been caught at the hut (our cabin) due to flooding numerous times and there was the one time in the middle of winter when Glenn and I seriously began to doubt our survival chances as we got caught on a river bank in a flash flood. But that was, at its fullest, maybe shoulder height. I just can't fathom the amount of water in Ipswich at the moment!

My thoughts go out to all those there and I know as soon as they begin flood funds for the survivors I'll be donating. I just wish I could do more.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My first 5 star Amazon review!!

More importantly my first Amazon review!  So exciting : ) It is from B.E.T who comments on my blog occasionally and as mentioned at the bottom of the post yesterday, this review made me cry!  She hit every point I'd been worrying about : ) I just checked before and it's now on Amazon so I thought I'd post a copy here too. Thank you B.E.T!


The Arrival is the first of The Birthright Trilogy by Nicole MacDonald, a proud Kiwi woman who’s bold blog title philosophy “Damsel in a Dirty Dress, screw being the damsel in distress!” is reflected in the attitudes of her four main heroines. Of all the highlighting features of this story, her characterization of these feisty females is by far my favorite. Miss MacDonald captures a perfect balance between the two extremes of the Xena and the fairy tale princess. Cat, Loi, Sian, and Kassie are hilarious at their highs and extremely sympathetic at their lows.
The way she captures the thoughts and feelings of her characters is by far the most unique feature of this novel. When I read something, I normally hate it when an author throws me into the mind of a single protagonist, then right as I’m getting to love them, throws me a sudden point of view switch to someone completely unrelated. The Arrival, however, employs a consistent shift of perspective between the multiple characters of the story to surprisingly great effect. While it took me a few pages to get the hang of such a unique writing device, I didn’t even notice once I got sucked into the action.
The plot itself has both light hearted and gruesome, romantic and tension-filled elements. The Arrival melds its interesting blend of contemporary and epic fantasy effectively into a way that is so believable, it made me get cravings every time it mentioned food! The many well thought out characters drove the action in the best possible way that left me anxious for them, even during the mellow parts of the story.
Overall, it was a damn enjoyable read and I recommend it to anyone who has a love of kick-butt heroines and not-your-average fantasy reads.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Plotting - so exciting!

OMG book two is going to be insane!! So much is happening!

It almost makes me hyperventilate at the thought of it *grin* book one really was just the beginning ;p
Now I am zooming through piles of post-its (thanks to a twitter buddy's suggestion) and scrawling off all the 'event's that I can think of. I can foresee this being a rather large book… But as long as it's good who cares!

It gets me very excited this plotting process, I really do wonder how the 'fly by the seats of their pants' type writers do it. I LOVE knowing all the exciting stuff now. Also it means I can plan events I want in book three and start them here (though I doubt many readers will pick up on them *mwahahahaha*) and there are some crazy things going on - intrigue, romance, action, and Drama with a capital D (in a good way, not a soap opera way). I did have some trouble in book one when I initially wrote it, is as I didn't want too much conflict. Then after it was pointed out a few too many times I fixed it. And now it rocks *grin* of course. Part of the reason was that I like to see only the 'good' and forget the 'bad' and the other reason was because I knew in book two that there were a few really big moments of conflict, and I didn't want to be too mean to the characters *lol*.

If you read the interview I did with Kerrin (the one on her blog not mine) you'll see that some of the characters were inspired by people I know. This is very common for me to do and I have a character in mind based on a friend but I have realized that she will very possibly be killed off in book three (nothing set in stone yet, but I'm processing the possibility). It is a weird thing to say to a friend 'yeah I had an idea for a character that's rather you… but I think she dies in book three…' *hee*

So for the moment I'll continue post'iting until I've got all possible events out of my head and then I'll smother the back of my door at home in the post its as I sort out the order and then chapters. Book one has 36 chapters of 8-14 pages. I may quite easily hit 40 chapters in book two and I'll aim for 12 pages each I think…
So many thoughts! I'm really excited at creating 'my' vision of creatures. I can promise that in book two there is a big dragon. A stafandrel dragon called Sito (or in reality a ratbag staffy dog known as Otis ;p), it might seem tacky or silly to some but I have great fun using names of people I know and just re-arranging them. And then those people are chuffed to know their names are in my book *giggle*

I still can't believe I love writing so much?? I'm not joking, ten years ago and it would have been my idea of hell on Earth. The best way to torture me. Now I have moments where I think, 'gee it wouldn't be sooo awful to break my leg.. at least I'd have lotsa time to write!'

I'm pretty sure I have a severe case of writeritis.. In fact I think I'm going to have to come up with an official term for it (unless you already know of one? Suggestions are welcome).

Ooo and on a bright note we've brought a new router which should be delivered in next 3 days so I will have the internet again!! Wooohooo : ) And until then I will borrow Glenn's computer (..really don't like his set up though.. mine is soo much nicer *grin* not that he agrees).

Take care all!

Oooh and just added - B.E.T has posted her review of my book and it made me cry.  Seriously the sort of review I've dreamed of!  Also she has a neat blog which is a continuing story - the link for it is at the top of her blog (the link I've provided) and I absolutely recommend it for a thrilling on going read!

Monday, January 10, 2011

And now my first interveiw (as in I'm being interviewed ;p)

Yes that's right not only was Kerrin the first to place a review but she's also the first to interview me *grin*.  I was rather chuffed as no one's asked me these questions before!  So if you wanted to know more of 'behind the scenes' of The Arrival have a read here and we're still working on the internet issues so this post is short and sweet : ) Hope everyone's having a great day!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

An involuntary hiatus…

Okay if you've sent e-mails or being expecting to hear from me via e-mail/twitter/facebook etc I'm sorry!  My computer is wireless and the connection hasn't been great of late so Glenn googled it and then reset the router as apparently that would do it.  Except now the router won't even register the internet even though it's there *groan*  He spent a good portion of Saturday growling and snapping as he tried to fix it but to no avail : ( and we can't ring the 0800 number for help as it won't accept cellphone numbers and our phone-line is through the internet and router, so not working *sigh*

It seems very wrong that a company that advertises its routers as a way of having a cheap phone line don't have any method of contact other than an 0800 number that DOESN'T accept cellphones and an e-mail address.  So we've sent an e-mail and otherwise I'll ring them when I get to work on Monday (at which point they'll probably say 'do you have the router there?' and I'll have a screaming hissy fit at their STUPID set up).  So in the mean time I will be able to snatch brief moments on Glenn's computer (like when I posted this) and I'll work on the Smashwords version again (still some errors ;p) and planning book two.  Maybe I'll practise with the whole 'speech to text' thing.  I have this (probably somewhat romantic) notion that if I plot it out well I can just 'tell' the computer the story and it'll write it for me… once we sort out some basic issues (like the difference between 'and' and 'end') and I'll have the first draft knocked out by the end of Feb *grin* wouldn't that be grand!!

Have a great weekend everyone and as mentioned please don't be offended by my lack of attention - I'll be in touch as soon as I can!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lookee!! My first review!

And possibly one of the hardest to get *grin* Kerrin Hearfield my blog buddy and longtime friend who has helped me critique The Arrival from the word go has posted a review on her blog. Okay so you make think she’d biased but I don’t care ;p She’s my first review and I love it!! Also anyone who’s survived eight re-writes and still loves the book deserves major kudos. I asked Kerrin a few questions regarding the critiquing process (see below) and then her review is in italics.


Kerrin you were the main critiquer for The Arrival. Is there a big difference between the first draft and final product?
Yes there is. I can see where you have made improvements - dramatically with punctuation and more subtle with character depth and conflict. I know it was hard to cut out a lot of what I suggested, and your final product is awesome - just so readers know, Nicole didn't use ALL my suggestions, it was mainly to show where as a reader I felt it needed something more, or less.

And what were your first thoughts when you read that first version?
I was really put off at first with the different POV's, especially from so many characters. But reading through it again, gave me an appreciation of the multiple view points and how they enriched your story! I've never seen it done like this before. And it never detracts from the tension or conflict either! There are still mysteries and twists I didn't see coming, even with all those view points!

You have seen multiple versions of this book, how can you still enjoy it after surviving eight re-writes?
I think mostly it is the richness you have incorporated in the story, through your descriptions, the character voices, and even the plot, to me it is very intriguing!

Do you have a favourite character in the story? Or a favourite scene (warning slight spoilers!)
My fav scene is where Cat and Alek finally scream at each other at the conclusion of their little conflict. I found it funny, but would still love to know what they said to each other :P
I quite like Citaan - I love how you have described her. But I feel most in line with Cat - the main heroine.

Has critiquing The Arrival helped you in your own writing? Do you recommend critiquing as a form of ‘writer education’?
It has helped me! I can see now where I overuse words, and where there’s need to tone down my descriptions by just using speech to show how my characters feel. I recommend critiquing for showing someone else's viewpoint and how they write things/situations. It really opens your eyes to your own faults when you find them in someone else's writing!

Was it difficult to give honest feedback? You’ve known me for years – were you ever nervous about providing feedback?
At first it was very hard. Sending through my first thoughts and corrections. I was so worried I would hurt your feelings (but I am rather sensitive to how others feel - I don't like hurting anyone!). Once you came back with your reply to them, I was relieved. I really wanted to help you make your story the best it could be, but didn't want to hurt you to. It is very hard, but honesty is vital.

Do you feel that the underlying theme ‘screw being the damsel in distress’ is up held through the book? Without it being overt?
To tell the truth I never thought of it! But seeing as the girls are all really self-sufficient and once they learn to use and control their powers it is really easy to see that they are the main 'fighters' in the story - protecting the world in conjunction with the men, but the girls remain the main contenders.

Nicole has a unique writing voice and style and you will enjoy reading from the viewpoint of many of the characters within the story which brings a richness and fullness to complete your reading experience.

It has rich and descriptive detail, various points of view, conflicts, bloodcurdling battles, magic, fantastical creatures and a subtle layer of sexual tension to keep you going to the very end....where you realise you just HAVE to have the next installment.

Gripping and emotive, this story will leave you begging for more and thinking about it long after you have finished reading.


Go buy it now, experience the magic of Nicole MacDonald!