Socialise Quietly and Write

Most Tuesdays, after work, I go to a Meetup in Sydney CBD for writers. It goes for two hours and we get together, sit down, and write.

A few people talk and exchange experiences once the clock reaches eight pm, on the dot. Others write until they have to go home. I write until I’m about to drop.

I cannot stop writing, it is usually one of my most productive writing moments of the week. I often get “in the zone” and produce high quality work, writing hard up to nine or ten.

Pumped by a guilty late-night-coffee — which will most certainly keep me awake or make me have an agitated, unrestful night — I think the sacrifice is worth it. Every time I debate, to coffee or not to coffee…

Tonight I have churned some great paragraphs and ticked many items of my to-do list for a specific project.

Trying to write, publish and promote your own books while working full time is a little bit like trying to give birth while driving a horse-cart with a spooked stallion must be. Creating life, giving birth to characters, while your attention is constantly demanded elsewhere…

The road doesn’t end though, so I keep bouncing, reins in hand, YEEHAW!

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What are Kindle Singles? Is my book one?

I have recently self-published a Kindle book composed of four short stories. My initial idea was to publish it as Kindle Singles.

I am not sure that Amazon is very good at communicating stuff, of I’m not very good at understanding them.

I had a completely wrong perception of what Kindle Singles are. I thought they were shorter books and that you should add them to this category if your book was shorter than the usual novel length. In my imagination, it was your duty to classify a book as a Kindle Single, if they were smaller, so the client could know what they are buying.

I didn’t realise Kindle Singles are something else altogether. Yes, they are shorter books, novella size, but they are hand picked by Amazon to be classified as so. If your book is chosen, you benefit from Kindle Singles promotions, which gives your book a bit more visibility. Therefore, being a Kindle Single is something special.

This means that you have to apply, to send your work to the Amazon editors and wait six weeks for them to evaluate it. Then you might become a Kindle Single. 

Just when I was about to submit it I read “no collections accepted”. I sent it anyway, probably part of my Brazilian DNA that would not allow me to give up without a try, an attempt of bending the rules.

It didn’t work, so “Sideways Reality”. [at Amazon AU, US, BR] is not a Kindle Single, but I’m still proud to call it my own!

Did Amazon make a mistake?

‘I don’t have a Kindle, can I read your book somewhere else?’

When I published my books in Portuguese I received a lot of questions about how to read them. I thought that was a specific problem related to the market. In Brazil, Amazon is fighting heavily with the big publishers, which hold the market with iron fists. Because of the low level of education of the majority of the population there isn’t much pressure the consumers can apply to these publishers.

The answer is: YES, you can. Kindle is an App for iOS and Android, phones, tablets and computers can have it. Some of them aren’t very pretty or good, but reading a book in one means you can continue where you stopped in any other platform. Amazon also has a cloud reader, where you can read books online and doesn’t have to install or download anything.

When I started receiving the same question from friends here in Australia it surprised me. It made me consider if Amazon had adopted a wrong strategy when they released Kindle. I wonder if calling the publishing platform and their electronic e-reader — the actual equipment — by the same name was a mistake.

If Amazon had called Kindle just the publishing platform, the software, and called the equipment “KindleReader” or “Kindler” or even “Kindleroo” (like a kangaroo carrying its books, get it?); maybe they would have been even more successful.

It would be clearer to the consumer that Kindle is the platform, and therefore something you can get for any device and the equipment can be bought to read Kindle books. With that clarity a lot more people would have joined Kindle and then would benefit from the great variety, cheaper books, free offers and portability.

In Love with Scrivener

It feels fantastic when your systems are working for you rather than against you. I am in love with the software Scrivener, which is a specific tool created for writers.

I found out about it during a Non-Fiction Festival from the NSW Writers Centre (www.nswwc.org.au) last year. Ben Law talked about it and I decided to investigate.

It is one of those things that you don’t know how you lived without it before. The same way I feel about the GPS and mobile phones. I remember the panic of using a paper map guide and turning the wrong way and I have no idea what you did when you were going to be late to meet mom at the mall.

The reason Scrivener is so fantastic is because it makes it easier to organise your thoughts. I have just published a new book in Portuguese at Amazon using Scrivener (“Simplesmente Gerva”)

Converting to Mobi was very easy and quick and none of the issues I used to have with word processors happened. I didn’t need to check all titles were in the same style, check for double spaces or any other ridiculous task that were obligatory before.

Going back to organising my thoughts, each chapter is given a summary card.

For this book, I noted on the cards when, where and who were in each chapter and with this I was able to get an overview of the time flow. Sometimes my character started something on Monday and suddenly it was Wednesday without any change in the day. With this technique and tool it was easy to see the overall picture.

I also acquired a MacBook Air once I discovered that Scrivener doesn’t run on iPad and decided that my writing tools are my number one priority. With the awesome help with my parents I got my new computer, new software and every day I am a happier person.

When I open my small bag, pull out my light, fast, potent little computer, put all my ideas (including this blog) into Scrivener and it can go straight into any format desired, it makes my heart dance with joy.

A bit of pleasure every day…

(Orble Votes: 29)

50 Thousand Words to Nano Victory

2013 nanowrimo winner certificate

Link: nanowrimo.org 

Last November (2013) I did it. I have ‘won’ the NaNoWriMo. I have written 50 thousand words in a month. I did expect to feel happy and a sense of achievement, but I didn’t expect to learn so much about myself while doing it.
The book is not ready, not even as a first draft, but the produce of that month is an infrastructure. It made me feel ready for the next step. I’m still searching for the elusive structure and coming to terms with my narrator. The challenge is that this narrator has to be strong enough to provide colour to the story but not too strong to detract from the main character.
This year is my final year on my Masters of creative writing and the two subjects left are projects where I intend to nail this, and having over 80,000 words written (counting 2012 nano’s plus many pieces I have written for subjects) should give me a good place to start.
What I learnt from the marathon was the capacity to write no matter what, tired after a whole day of hard work, uninspired, sick, write in the morning, in the afternoon, at night. I went through the fallacy that you need inspiration to write and found a well of capacity to do what it takes.
It also introduced me to something that I find hilarious: writing groups. A group of people who get together at a pub, sit down and write together. They barely say hello, there is very little chit chat, often I only learn the name of one or two people in a group of fifteen.
We meet, we put our individual music inside our ears, and we write alone, in a group.
I found groups that keep meeting even after the marathon and keep going to them. Something about having others like you doing the same as you do, having a time allocated and putting the energy to the task makes is highly productive.

NanoWrimo Progress
(Orble Votes: 28)

Indoors Saturday

Link: nswwc.org.au

Here I am on a Saturday, with an average of five speakers and a couple of hundred people talking about the intricacies of writing. “The take that people have on your take of them”.

It is the creative non-fiction festival at the New South Wales Writers Centre. I love being in the room thinking about what to write and not and the consequences of our words.
What to do when you are interviewing people who are big?
It is funny to think that for 10 minutes of my life I was in the same league as the lectures. With my interview with Justin Bieber I know and I knew at the time, I had no idea what I was doing… but did it. I did prepare, got over 60 questions ready, got two recorders which was great as one stopped and then did the best that I could.
Here I see a deeper level and even how wrong it could have gone.
Being in your passion makes anything interesting and talking about hurt sommeliers over a humorous article is just one of them.
(Orble Votes: 21)

Doubt is a Disease

It is like a disease, this sensation of not being sure and I wonder if everyone suffers from it one way or another.
Self-doubt it can be called but it is not a precise name. The doubt is not if you can do something, I have plenty of confidence in my abilities, what I sometimes lack is the confidence that I will do it.
It is like when you are going to meet an ex-lover you really don’t want to be involved with anymore. You know the pain but you also know how good it feels to be with him. You know you can avoid having a fireworks-unforgettable night followed up by a predictable heartache. The question is if I will avoid it.
Or when you have to do your tax declaration. You save the time, you keep the night free of any other appointments, you put in your calendar, let your friends know not to call you. But can you trust yourself not to sit on the TV, or read a book or play with your phone, or even with yourself? There is so many more interesting things to do!
During the day in question you feel half happy because you have made it all possible and you know you will do it, but another half of you is secretly suffering this self-doubting disease. Will I? Will I get home and sit on my computer and do it?
These examples were two of my victories, I have done my taxes and have avoided the ex-boyfriend but another one is afflicting me: NaNoWriMo.
A month to write 50,000 words. I know I can. I have the material, I have the voice, the narrator, the character.
I have the story, the inspiration and the will. But will I?
Am I able to wake up earlier or if I turn around and go back to sleep, will I get home after work and find the energy to write? Will I know what to write first, second and third?
Will I find a way to get the other things going at the same time or will I find distractions even within my passion? Like writing some other text to submit to an Anthology. Or will I have this fantastic inspiration to write the most amazing short story? Anything rather than concentration on this one book of 50,000 words.
Can I trust not only my will, but my barely-held-together mind?
We will see. It starts at midnight.
(Orble Votes: 22)