My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

Tweaks And Things – You Can Always Make It Better

So, I have my book baby in my hand.

It’s been read, reread, checked and checked again.

No room, or chance for error, right?

Wrong.

I received a (much appreciated) email from a reviewer, alerting me to a couple of missed punctuation marks and silly niggly spelling errors. She is aware of how much this book means to me, and knows how I want to put as perfect a version out there, as possible.

But how is this possible? As I said before, I read and reread countless times!

The problem is that I am too close to the story. No matter now much I read it, I gloss over bits, so end up missing thoes niggles.

I requested ideas from my main writing support group on Facebook (details below) and was given some great ideas:

  • read using a ruler so the next lines can’t distract you
  • read backwards, either from the bottom of a page up, or even from the end of the book to the beginning
  • read it out aloud in a monotone voice (impossible for me, as I am one of nature’s storytellers, and when I read aloud, I have to use expression, and accents – ask the kids in my class, and my colleagues), or
  • use a narrator facility available on most word processers like Word, and even Siri on your MacBook. Hearing your typed words spoken, can help to pick up certain discrepancies

These, along with the help of a proofreader friend of mine, allowed me to pinpoint some silly errors that grammar and spelling software would miss. Continuity errors were caught by said friend too.

Finally, I have a tweaked, polished proof, all uploaded again, and squeaky clean (well, almost. There might be a few naughty bits, but then, romance needs a teensy bit of sauce to, doesn’t it?)

And I have been busy writing content for some of the Blog Tour posts. All the bloggers I approached, have responded, and I officially have a tour planned! Next step – create the Blog Tour Banner!

I even arranged for my first book merchandise – a bookmark!

Another thing I did, was experiment with pens. Now, if you know anything about me, (and most writers), you’ll know that I am a stationery addict. I can never have enough pens or notebooks, and all the other stationery inbetween! I convinced myself that I need a special type of pen for signing my book. I am a bit specific. I love purple. My fountain pen has a bottle of purple ink that I use to fill it with. But, the ink bleeds on the paper in my book, so it’s not perfect for signing. And then, Amazon did this…

Okay, so Amazon didn’t actually do it, it was me. But think of me as the addict, and Amazon as the dealer. I have enough purple pens to experiment with, and to write with for a good long time now! Can’t say “I can’t find a pen!” now.

And then I did another thing. I mentioned a Facebook group a little earlier in the post. The group is run by our very own Sacha Black, and is called 13 Steps to Evil – Villain Masters. This group have been huge in helping me along with the last few months of my journey to getting published. From weekly accountability threads, a safe place to ask questions and get advice, writing prompts, and timely funny writer/villainous memes, to genuine friendships – I have found my writer people! Now, Sacha not only writes amazing fiction, superb writing guides and informative blog posts, but she has also started a podcast called The Rebel Author Podcast. I’ve listened to most of the episodes, and read the transripts of all. So good – I highly recommend. She’s already had some great guests, and it’s only ten episodes old! Well, now she’s branched out into her very own merchandise, and I just had to get my hands on some.

Here I am with my large mug, slouch T-shirt and spiral notebook. I know what I’ll be drinking out of, whenever I write now! Today’s Chai Latte tasted great! And if you want to check out her merchandise shop, click here.

Oh, and something absolutely amazing happened today. Someone I don’t even know posted my book and the preorder link on a Romance Facebook group. I am speechless!

Right, I must get back to that Blog Tour content, but I’ll be back soon, with a banner giving all the dates and details.

And, what are you waiting for? You know you want to put your order in!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged, My Writing Journey

New Year, New Book. What Next?

Well, I can’t quite believe it. Here we are, finally in 2020. A new decade too.

And this is the year I will officially become a published author!

Pub Day is not far off, around 6 weeks, and the nerves are jangling like crazy.

In my last post, I announced the offical publication date, of 9th February 2020, and it felt like an age away. But time has a habit of running away with you, when you have something lined up, doesn’t it?

So, I have my book, officially on preorder, kindle version, and the paperback to be available from the publication date. Right here – getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

There was a slight kerfuffle with the cover. Somehow, even using all the information KDP give an author and cover designer, the first wraparound, or print cover, fell short by 0.088mm! And it all makes a difference, so after tweaking, and resubmitting, we finally got the measurements right.

I was so excited. This meant I could order a proof copy, and finally see what my book baby would look and feel like in a reader’s hands.

Then I pressed Publish Now, instead of Save.

I woke in the morning to an email from Amazon KDP congratulating me on my new live paperback!

Eeeek!

No!

That wasn’t meant to happen!

Thankfully it had only been live for minutes, so I managed to ‘unpublish’ it and order my proof…

It came, yesterday, on the 31st of December. What a wonderful present 2019 gave me, on it’s way out.

Here she is! 🥰

I sat, stroking it, flicking through the pages. I mean, look at it. It’s a real book! And it’s mine. A lot of time was spent sharing the news on social media, because you have to keep that buzz going, and I have had such lovely comments from people all over the world. (I just hope they buy the book, too!)

Hugging my book baby

But that is not it. There are still a lot of little niggly things that need doing. My next job is to proof read the print copy. I have to make sure there are no errors that have missed my eye in all the other rereads – spelling mistakes or formatting errors. And I’ve been doing the same with the ebook version too.

Ready to proof read!

But, that’s not all.

There is also promotion to do, and I have been contacting and organising a blog tour to coincide with the release. I believe I have got responses from pretty much all the bloggers I approached…now to write content for the posts!

And I have arranged for a social media Book Blitz too, where the cover and blurb will be showcased across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the week preceeding the release. I feel rather pleased with myself, but I’ll be happier when I actually get that content written!

And what of the rest of the year?

Well, there is no time to sit back and rest on my laurels! I still have a life to lead, and I am hoping that you readers might want more, so I have my goals for 2020, writing wise, set out.

2020 Writing Goals

And there you have it!

Wish me luck, my dear Peeps!

getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Described as Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick lit with an Indian twist, and not jsut for chicks, you Chap(patti)s too!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Blog, My Writing Journey

Will They Like My Book?

So, you wrote a book.

Or at least you wrote a story, or a body of text, and you want it to become a book.

What comes next?

Well, you know, from my previous post here, about things getting too much that it’s not just about writing. There is rereading, and rewriting and editing involved that can take a while.

After all that work, have you finally got something worth reading?

I mean, that’s why I write. To be read. You know that. I mentioned it here.

And the only way I know it will be something worthy of a reader’s attention, is by sending it out to a few readers.

Those in the know call these test pilots Beta Readers. Or you can strip it down further and say your first readers, those who will feedback with information as to whether your story is viable, are your Alpha Readers.

Then after rounds of edits and rewrites, come your Beta Readers. They are the ones who will give you the feedback that can take your book from good to great.

Some Beta Readers are there to give you general feedback.

  • Does the story engage the reader?
  • Does it make sense?
  • Any major plot holes?
  • They will give a great general piece of feedback for you to mull over

Some go that bit further:

  • Give more specific feedback about style of writing
  • Point out spelling or grammar errors, or those missed full stops and unneccesary spaces
  • Give detailed notes on every page

All this feedback is great. But what do you do with it all?

Well, having sent my manuscript to five trusted Beta Readers, I am awaiting the full feedback from a couple but I have already had some. Here are a couple of pointers to remember.

  • Wait for all your feedback to come in before making any major changes
  • Check to see whether there are any similarities in the feedback that may highlight an issue that you need to tackle
  • Remember there’s no such thing as bad feedback. If you sent it to the right people, all will be constructive
  • Don’t forget it is one persons opinion
  • Pick and choose what you decide to alter. It is your book, after all
  • Keep positive comments handy to cheer yourself up when things are tough, but don’t forget any negative words. They are there to help you better your work.

These are the comments I have kept to make me feel these last 19 years have been worth it!

I was so down last week, having let editing get to me, so I had a total break from everything for a few days. It helped immensely. I woke up one day feeling so positive about the whole situation that I ended up submitting my manuscript to a publisher. Just like that!

I don’t have my head in the clouds, but if you don’t try, you won’t know, will you?

Now I just have to wait… wait for the rest of the Beta Reader feedback… wait to hear back from the publisher…

My Writing Journey, Uncategorized

When It All Gets A Bit Too Much

Writing.

It’s an overwhelming business, you know.

If you ask someone who doesn’t write, their image of a writer at work, would be someone surrounded by books, a computer or paper to hand, tapping on a keyboard, or scribbling ideas down furiously.

Or gazing out of the window at a picturesque writers retread, pencil at the ready for any ispiration that might hit.

Or that other chestnut, the writer taking up a table at the local coffee shop, empty cups strewn across said table, and laptop set up, ready for that literary greatness to fill the screen.

Yes.

That’s it.

That’s exactly how all those books out there came to fruition.

A few hours or days to write or type, and a perfect story is created, ready for publication.

NOT!

The writing journey, along with the subsequent editing process, is an arduous one. And though you may spend a lot of it on your bottom, you use up your mental energy more than you realise.

When I decided to really ramp up the writing of my first draft, I used the month of August in 2017 and created my own mini #RiNoWriMo, as November and #NaNo WriMo is beyond me, what with being a teacher in my other life.

So August, that sacred month for teachers, where you get time off, was sacrificed for my writing.

And write, I did!

But I didn’t know how much writing 2,500+ words a day would take out of me.

I started back to school in September an emotional wreck. Not the best way to start the academic year, I’ll have you know. Although pushing myself to write hit word count goals, it zapped me of any energy, and the ability to function emotionally for a few weeks. Writing had become too much.

And the draft still wasn’t finished. I wondered whether this writing malarkey was really for me?

So when I decided that this August, two years on, would be my month for editing, I had to keep my emotional wellbeing in mind too.

#RiNoEdMo has nearly come to a close, and I have worked my pudgy behind off (not literally, because if I had, that would be wonderful, but I digress…) to go through this manuscript with a fine tooth comb. It took me 10 days to finish the first of my ‘final’ edits.

Once it was off to beta readers, I sat back with a light heart, and one heck of a headache.

That mental tiredness had kicked in. It had officially become too much.

Bitmoji Image

So, I scheduled time for me, time with my children and family, time to read.

And, yes, I have revisited my draft, as and when feedback drips in, tweaking easy bits, but I have put it on the back burner so I can get back into my other life mindset. (I hate to call it real life, because writing is part of my real life too, it’s just my alter-life… By day wife, mother and teacher. By night writer and sleeper.)

One week until school beckons to me. One week to get some of that r’n’r. One week to maybe add a few more tweaks Stop it woman, you are meant to be resting!

I have compiled a list of things I do to help me get that ‘me’ time as well as being as productive as possible, within a short timespan.

  • Take regular breaks and hydrate.
  • Give yourself a time limit for how long you will spend on your manuscript every day.
  • Treat yourself when you reach a goal. A bubble bath, a manicure, a drink…
  • If your head hurts, listen to it, and step away for a while.
  • Always have a good book handy to read as a reward.
  • Plan a day out.
  • Change the scenery around you – write in the garden one day, on your bed on another, take your laptop for a trip to a different place. It’s as refreshing as a break.

All little things, but they do help to keep your wellbeing from sinking, as you swim through the ocean of Getting That Book Out There.

Do you have any other advice for keeping sane while writing and editing?

My Writing Journey

Writing To Be Read

Why do you write?

Well, for some, it is to allow feelings to be released. For others, it is part and parcel of their job.

And for authors, it is because you have stories we wish to tell, and share with the world.

Now, anyone could write away and create a tale which they send off out into the big wide book world.

It’s possible.

Self-publishing platforms have made it that simple. As long as you have access to a computer, you can write, download and press Publish, and that’s it.

You are a published author.

Plenty of writers out there have done that. There are over one million titles published worldwide, every year.

And if you have been trying, you know it is nearly impossible to land a traditional publishing deal. So, that’s where self-publishing, or independently publishing comes in.

But how many of those books that are self-published are successful?

If you market right, you’ll make some sales, then your book might get buried under the waves of newer books hitting the shelves.

There are some authors, though, who have smashed the Indie Author market.

And it’s not just by some fluke. (Maybe it is sometimes. I’ll name no names, but there are a few self-published books over the years that have become huge, yet the writing leaves a lot to be desired! But I digress…)

Those writers spend time on their books. They don’t just churn out reams of text, give it a quick glance, then press that Publish button.

They write, and reread, then write again. They use the eyes of beta readers as well as editors, to help their book baby grow. They take time to create a world within their book that will transport a reader. They want the cover to attract you. They want the blurb to hook you and reel you in. These writers want you to become fully immersed in their story. They want you to be thinking of the characters, long after you reach The End.

They want you to think of them; of buying any future books they may write.

They want you to want to read their books.

That’s why I write; to be read.

In my heart, I know my story is worth telling (fictional, not my life story!) I know it is a tale that would be enjoyed, providing I give it all the love and attention it requires.

That’s what the last few weeks have been about.

Reading, rewriting, getting feedback.

It’s taken me nearly 20 years to get to this stage, you know. That’s how much I believe in my story.

When I reached the last page, after this final set of revisions, I felt ready to send the manuscript out to my team of Beta Readers, and that’s where my book baby lies right now.

I sit here, nervously awaiting feedback now.

Will my baby be ready to be set free in the literary world?

My Writing Journey

Writing A Book Isn’t Easy

Writing a book isn’t easy.

Well, actually, that isn’t entirely true.

With the facilities would-be authors have at their fingertips nowadays, writing a book, and getting it out there is relatively easy.

What I should really have said was writing a good book isn’t easy.

When you have poured your blood and sweat into writing a story that you are desperate to get out into the literary world, the biggest disservice you can do is not making sure you have perfected it to the best of your ability.

And in order to create a piece of work that is ready, it requires not just the author, but a whole host of others, especially if you decided to self publish.

You need:

  • your support network behind you, both physically and virtually
  • unbiased people ready to read what you are writing, and happy to feed back truthfully
  • an editor who you gel with, someone who knows your vision, and can give you constructive advice
  • more willing readers
  • a cover designer who gets your story
  • copy editors possibly
  • some one who understands formatting to make the interior of your book look as perfect as it can
  • a group of people out there willing to help you promote your masterpiece at the right time

I’m at a crucial stage now.

I have a fantastic support network, thankfully. I have had readers feedback on my original, Ritu-edited draft.

I have reworked parts according to the feedback given.

I found a wonderful editor who has read my work and has given me all sorts of helpful advice and feedback.

I have a list of ready to read beta readers once I manage to finish the edits I wish to make to perfect my story.

I even have a cover designer who has designed a beautiful cover for what will hopefully be my first novel.

There has already been the offer of formatting from one of my dear Blog Family.

And lots of promised support when that release date finally comes to happen.

I’m still not sure of copy editing, but will look into that soon too.

But right now, I need time to get this book ready.

A couple of years ago, I used the month of August to really steam ahead with the writing of this WIP that had taken on teenage status. and it really worked. #RiNoWriMo (Ritu’s Novel Writing Month) was what I needed, and I used my blog as an accountability partner. EAch week I would update my followers on my word count and whether I managed to do what I had hoped. The encouragement I received pushed me to continue, and by the end of the month, my WIP was nearly 60,000 words longer.

Not finished but so close.

I was mentally exhausted though, unsurprisingly, because my month wasn’t devoted to writing, I still had to be a mum to my children who were at the age where they couldn’t occupy themselves for too long, so I was acting as a peace maker/screaming banshee mother as well as writing/typing away furiously.

This year, I have created another month for myself, to get this book to the stage where I can finally say “It’s ready!”.

#RiNoEdMo.

Yup, I’m sure I’ll be pulling faces like that!

I’ll be focussing my attentions on the editing required, and the changes that I need to make to my manuscript, to give it the best possible chance of being read by more than just a few people out there.

It means that certain writing challenges that I take part in on my other blog may be forfeited for a few weeks, but I think that is acceptable, in the circumstances.

“To realise a dream, you sometimes have to let go of others.”

Ritu Bhathal 2019

And I shall be updating you all on here as to my progress, so you will all be my accountability partners.

Here’s to getting this WIP to REAL BOOK state!

My Writing Journey

The Path To Writing a Novel Is Never Smooth

Everyone has a story.

We all have at least one book within us.

These are phrases I have heard bandied about a lot over the years.

And they are very true. We all have something within us that we could tell.

But can we all write that book?

I’d like to invite you on my journey. I’m part way through it, hopefully nearing the end, to be honest, but in order for you to experience it all with me, I thought I’d share the long and winding road I have followed to get here.

The Story of My WIP

As a mid-twenties girl, about to embark on my own marital journey, I had an idea. 

It was the bones of a story for a novel. 

Everyone has a book inside them, so they say. Maybe this was mine! 

I started writing this story in 2000, not realising the journey I would go on whilst this book was being written, both as a person, and a writer. 

I managed to write around 6,000 words before the day I said “I do”. 

The first year of marriage was busy. Not hard, but different to the life I was used to. It left no time for me to be faffing around with pen and paper or a computer. 

But I could hear that floppy disk calling me… yes it was that long ago that my work was on floppy disks, later saved onto CD-ROMs. Way before the pen drives and clouds we are used to now.

I remember telling my Hubby Dearest about this book thing that I had started. He showed a little interest, and actually he even bought me my first laptop for me to continue my writing. 

I printed what I had written and got a colleague to read it. She was encouraging and it spurred me on, I had an aim for getting 1,000 words done a night. That way within a few months I could have completed my book.

But life isn’t always that easy, is it? 

Being a daughter in law meant I had certain responsibilities, including helping arrange my brother in law’s wedding, coupled with the fact that we wanted to start a family. 

I tucked my book up for what I hoped was a short while, at around 13,000 words. 

And there it languished, this time on a CD-ROM, for many years.  

Sister-in laws came and went, and my own two children took up a lot of my time, leaving that poor WIP gathering computer dust… My literary creativity was at an all-time low. Non-existent. But I still read feverishly and enjoyed sharing children’s classics with my own kids. 

Around fourteen years after I started writing this story, blogging came into my life, changing it completely! 

My creativity was ignited again. I was responding to writing prompts and enjoying the whole process of moulding words into little literary artworks. 

I was in touch with people like me. Bloggers who were writers, writers who were authors, poets, both. It was another world, this Blogisphere, and I loved it! 

Again, my WIP whispered to me… “Let them read me… maybe you’ll want to finish me too…” 

So, I took that step. 

I published the first seven chapters of my story, on a weekly basis, to get the feedback from all these amazing writers out there. 

And the feedback was so positive. There was a thirst for the next chapter to be posted, and the story seemed to hit a note with those who wrote it. 

I just had to finish it. So many people wanted to know what happened next, and I didn’t even know that, as I had not really planned my story in such detail. 

But, for writing, you need time. I saw two NaNoWriMo annual sessions pass and was gutted that I couldn’t take part in it. November is a busy month for a teacher. It just wasn’t happening. 

I managed to squeeze in publishing a poetry book though, which I found simple, as I had so much material to use, but the writing… there just wasn’t the time! 

By now I also had a small cavalry of authors who were also encouraging me to get back into writing. 

I made a decision then. 

If I couldn’t take part in the official NaNo, then I would do it myself. 

I gave myself a target of 50,000 words, and chose the month of August to have my very own #RiNoWriMo – Ritu’s Novel Writing Month. 

My #RiNoWriMo workstation and my muse, Sonu Singh

School holidays, and children who were older and able to keep themselves entertained, meant August was the best time for me to write. 

It wasn’t easy, but I prepared myself by rereading all that I had written, correcting silly mistakes as I went along. I invested in a huge whiteboard which I decorated and made into a storyboard, and really planned my story, did character profiles, checked out locations etc. 

It was all rather real! 

And I wrote. 

Boy, did I write! 

During the month, I posted weekly on my blog, But I Smile Anyway about the progress of the novel, and whether I had hit my own targets. 

My followers became my accountability partners, along with emails and messages from a few close blog pals, and they kept my momentum going. 

My kids even heard snippets of it and were always asking what was going to happen to various characters, showing interest in this story of my making. 

By the end of August, I had a manuscript that was nearly 70,000 words long, and still not finished, but not far off. 

I was mentally exhausted, but so proud of myself. 

I couldn’t bear to look at it for ages after. Partly because of the exhaustion, but also because my work life was really tough at the time, and I didn’t want to be half-hearted about the ending. 

A few months passed, and Easter holidays came. I decided to have a reread of the last few chapters I had written, and (am I supposed to say this about my own manuscript?) I really enjoyed it! 

It spurred me on to write more, and by the second week of the holidays, and eighteen years after starting, I finally had a fully completed first draft! 

The first day I held a fully printed out version of my first ever first draft, was a truly blessed day! (Even though I saw a spelling error on the first page, as soon as I looked at it, d’oh!) 

Since then I have had three trusted sources read it, give me initial feedback, I have rewritten and tweaked it, and even roped in a wonderful editor who has given me her comments, and I am partway through my hopefully final rewrite!

I sent a couple of queries out, got positive rejection messages too, and even entered the Twitter craziness of #PitMad a couple of months back, where an agent was interested too! She read some, gave some feedback and asked me to get back in touch when my manuscript was polished.

And there is even a possible cover on the table, but not finalized yet, as there is still work to do.

From rereading and rewriting, beta reading and editing, then the formatting and cover design if I decide to self-publish or choosing to write my synopsis and send letters out to agents, in the hope of getting discovered by a traditional publication house, to actually holding a physical copy of my book in my hand. 

As long as it doesn’t take another nineteen years!