The Third Draft! We’re Almost There!

Girl Jumping

Yes, I took another long hiatus. Summer tends to have this effect on me. But, I am back and I have big news!

I am now working on the third (and hopefully final) draft of my novel. I completed the second draft in July, and am now seventeen chapters into my edit. Between hand edits and the help of amazing editing tool ProWriting Aid, I am well on my way to producing the best work that I can.

Like usual, everything is taking longer than I thought, so this means my book will not hit the market until 2020. If all goes according to plan, I would love to put it out there to coincide with the anniversary of when I began working on the first draft in earnest, which would be mid-March. If not, April would be perfect too.

I will try to update this blog more frequently. You might get some posts about editing! Stay tuned and Happy Autumn!

Writing: The Evergreen Discipline

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I’ve been a naughty girl recently. I have fallen off schedule with my blog posts! :p This post was originally supposed to go live on the Solstice, but better late than never.

While my complacency and focus on holiday fun did not earn me coal in my stocking, it certainly did nothing to advance my literary aspirations or grow a potential audience. But I have become wise enough to know that sometimes we owe ourselves forgiveness and rest. All work and no play makes humans dull, after all. We must never lose the joy of life and living in the moment.

The holidays are behind us and the new year is upon us. Here on the East Coast we have nearly three months to move through before we see any evidence of Spring.  I feel a strong connection to the earth and find great wisdom in its workings. Each season brings its own symbolic lessons with it. Winter’s lessons are those of adversity — of being tested by the cold, by scarcity, by difficulties that seem interminable. But, we also have the lessons of perseverance, of rebirth, and hope. Our days will gradually lengthen and, even though we are still very much in the “darkness”, we have the promise of summer that will eventually be realized. We will overcome the challenges this season brings and bask in summer’s abundant warmth again as we always do. In winter, we will rest and mine the possibilities nestled in our dreams. We will contemplate and chart a course to follow in the coming year and hopefully succeed at it. Things may look bleak or even dead on the surface, but life never ceases, energy is always circulating, expanding.

In my living room, the Christmas tree still stands lit and decorated. Trees have always been one of my favorite parts of the season of light. The evergreens have a lot to teach us. They are one of the few plants that retain their color and needles in winter. Winter does not strip these hardy trees naked. If anything, their beauty shines brighter beneath glistening snow. They stand tall and full, defiant in the face of biting coldness.

I feel like the writing journey is a little like an evergreen. Even in the darkest, coldest  times, the urge, the talent is always there if we look deep enough. It is something that cannot easily be destroyed. Challenges can actually strengthen it in some aspects. If an idea is a valid one, it will remain “evergreen” — always there (or at least there for a long time), waiting for us to notice it, standing tall and proud in any season, distinguishing itself from a myriad other ideas that have fallen dormant and lost their allure or perished when critiqued or analyzed. Maybe every writer needs to look upon their path as an evergreen one, maybe we would all do well to cultivate the lessons of the evergreen.

I hope your holidays were wonderful ones and I wish you all the best in 2019! You’re probably wondering if I made any New Year’s resolutions. I have — but magical things should be kept secret lest they lose their potency and I certainly have some magical desires this year.  😉

Yes, Writers Deserve To Be Paid

A look at erroneous ideas surrounding writers and money.

 

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There is a longstanding idea in our society that writers should not always expect to be paid for their writing. Those who espouse this opinion often justify it with one or a composite of the following ideas:

“Exposure is just as good/better than being paid.”
“Writers should just be glad anybody reads their work at all.”
“Writers write for fun, and they should be okay with just having an audience/ you don’t get paid for having fun.”
“Charging money for your writing degrades the craft of writing.”
“Writing is unnecessary.”

Let’s take a look at each of these beliefs, shall we?

For emerging writers, exposure can be a blessing even if you do not get paid. I am blogging after all to build an audience. Simply seeing your name in print can be validating. Writers can also reach readers by giving out some freebies on occasion. But taking all these actions to the extreme deprives writers of the financial compensation of which they are worthy and, most importantly, of the means to support themselves.

As far as being glad anyone reads your work at all, sure writers are generally tickled pink to gain fans, however that does not negate the need to keep a roof over your head. Romantic notions of writers living in ramshackle apartments or holed up above cafes in glamorous cities not knowing where their next meal will come from are unrealistic and only romantic in movies where you know the writer characters are going to make it big.

With regards to not getting paid to have fun…there are doctors, lawyers, engineers, fashion-designers, teachers, and truckdrivers who enjoy their jobs, but they all still get paid –exactly as they should! Just because a person enjoys something does not mean they should not receive money in return.

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The idea that charging money for a service somehow “defiles” it is to me unbelievably erroneous. This is a common problem among artists of all sorts as well as those who work in the complimentary/alternative medicine fields — massage therapists, Reiki masters, etc. Money has gotten a bit of a bad reputation in Western culture. We are taught to go out and make money but also told that  “money is the root of all evil”. (I would say human greed is the root of all evil is much more accurate.) Many spiritual paths that revolve around a doctrine of self-denial and the righteousness  of poverty also promote shame around living an abundant life. These are massively  disempowering ideas that seep into a lot of writers’ brains by default. Money at its most basic is another form of embodied energy, one that enables us to feed ourselves and our families and to help others in need as well. Life becomes stressful when you do not have enough money and stress hampers creativity. Paying someone for their time and services or charging money for services rendered is perfectly moral.

But I think the most egregious idea yet is the last one: that writing is unnecessary. Writing, and any other artistic pursuits, are not unnecessary. They give tired minds an opportunity to relax and heal, they inspire us to be our best selves, they instruct us  and add a spectacular rainbow of color to our world. Can you imagine a world in which there were no books, no paintings, no music? I can — and it would be a world I would not want to inhabit for long. The arts preserve the very history of humanity. If we think that is unnecessary for our growth as human beings, we have failed.

So do not feel guilty about wanting to be paid for your writing. It’s natural, it’s ethical, and it does not degrade the very act of writing. May you become a best seller! 🙂

What do you think? What was the lamest reason you ever heard for writers not being paid? Share with me in the comments!

 

Why I Have Decided To Self-Publish

With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books.

Book and daisiesBefore I proceed, I have not written this post to disparage those who work in the traditional publishing fields such as editors and literary agents. I am sure these people work hard at their jobs and are passionate about the written word. But I have chosen a different path.

After a great deal of thought, I decided to self-publish the novel I am currently at work on. This avenue had been suggested to me before by other people in my midst, but I fought the idea tooth and nail, justifying it with my erroneous belief that truly talented (or “real”) writers don’t need to self-publish. I thought no publisher would overlook something that is truly good and readers would sniff contemptuously at anything they discovered to be self-published. I have thankfully broken free of those beliefs. Why? Because they are false.

Many fine books have been rejected numerous times by the big houses only to become best sellers. It was only due to perseverance on the authors’ parts that we have those books to enjoy. They persisted but I wonder how many other skilled writers gave up after one too many discouraging e-mails, the gems they might have penned relegated to a desk drawer forever? I also happen to know other very talented wordsmiths who have received rejection notices even after rewriting and having their manuscripts professionally edited. Contrary to popular belief, books do not always get rejected because they are bad. Sometimes, the publisher has already published a similar work and cannot take on another, or it simply didn’t tickle someone’s fancy enough.
 
So far I have poured three and a half years into my novel. I would hate to see a project I have given my heart and soul to languishing in a slush pile forever. The writing world these days is highly competitive and the odds are pretty heavily stacked against new authors. They are just too risky to take a financial gamble on in a world where producing and marketing books is so expensive.
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Another variable that makes self-publishing an attractive option is not needing an agent. As great as I am sure agents are, they are difficult to acquire and, well, also have to be paid fairly for their work which dips into my author income.
 
My third and honestly, biggest reason for self-publishing is (almost) full creative control. I am free to chose the cover design, book length, publishing house name, and make the final call on what ultimately gets cut and what stays in the story. I can also set my price and earn higher royalties. These are all particulars I understand traditionally published authors have little control over.
 
Am I worried that readers may not buy my book if they know it is self-published? Not a great deal. Some readers do balk at self-published books over concerns that they are low quality. Admittedly, there are self-published books that are low quality, but that isn’t simply because they are self-published or the authors lack talent. From what I have seen as a reader, writers get so excited over sharing their book with the world that they forget to revise and take their time crafting a quality work. I share that excitement, I truly do; but years of working in sales has taught me that in order to make a good name for yourself and build a loyal customer base, you must offer a product that people love, that people are willing to spend their hard-earned money on, a product good enough that they will come back for more. These sorts of products take time and I intend to polish my work to the best of my ability.  
                                                                                    
Will people be able to tell my book is self-published? My guess is no (unless they read this blog. 🙂 ). With proper time and effort, self-published books can look and be as good as traditionally published books and I intend to put in the time and effort. I am sure self-publishing will be a big challenge, but I plan to give it my best. (I might be a Libra, but I have strong Virgo influences in my chart and Virgo is nothing if not exacting. 🙂 ) The internet has opened up a whole new field to writers and the publishing landscape is indeed changing. Follow my blog for updates on my progress!
 
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? I would love to hear them!

What Do Baking And Writing Have In Common?

A good story, like a good cake, is a composition of many ingredients — plot, characters, theme, and word usage to name the most important ones.

books and macaroons

Happy Monday! I generally only blog twice a month, but I was inspired last night after baking a Dutch apple bread. 🙂 ❤

As you are well aware, writing is my oldest passion. One of my other great loves is food and the preparation of food. I just love cooking and baking. (Baking particularly lets me play with one of my favorite things– chocolate!) I post recipes compulsively on Facebook and stare longingly at high quality cookware. I am an addict.

So what on earth does food preparation have in common with writing? For me, quite a bit, I have found.

Timing

As we have to take time into consideration with baking, so do we with writing.  When baking, you need time to gather the ingredients and get your baking area set up (prep time) as well as actual bake time. When writing a novel, you must consider your “prep time” as well as your “bake time”. You must first gather all of your “ingredients” — writing materials, your outline, inspiration, and any research you must do before setting to work. You should certainly figure your prep time into the entire process.

You also must observe the bake time. You cannot remove a cake from the oven too quickly nor can you leave it in too long.  It will either be under-done or burnt. The same is true for a story. You cannot hurry it along because it will seem flat, rushed or full of errors–things the keen eyes of your readers will certainly catch and not appreciate. You also cannot drag the story out by adding too many extraneous details or scenes or allow it to molder inside of you and die.

Ingredients

All ingredients must be gradually added together to form a delectable (or hopefully delectable) creation. Most recipes give specific instructions as to when and how the ingredients are to be combined. First, last, creamed, beaten, stirred, sifted, mixed, folded, etc. A good story, like a good cake, is a composition of many ingredients — plot, characters, theme, and word usage to name the most important ones. They must blend well together and each will unfold and develop in a certain order and in their own good time. Each genre also requires a special touch or effect. Just as there are all sorts of cooks and bakers, there are writers who excel at each genre.

Trial and Error

Not all kitchen experiments are successful. Sometimes you follow an inferior recipe and sometimes you make a mistake or several that destroy the food. Whatever the reason, we all fail sometimes and we can all learn from our failures.  Being a writer is the same as being a baker. Sometimes your writing is delicious and close to perfect. Other times, it falls flat. Sometimes it’s a success but does not get the attention it deserves. That’s okay.  You always have tomorrow to go back to the kitchen or to your writing office and begin anew.

Bon Appetit and have a wonderful week! ❤

 

 

Autumn Aspirations

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Every year around this time, I mourn a little. Mourn the passing of summer and all the fun and beauty it brings.  Up here where the winter lingers deep into the spring and snow often competes with daffodils and cherry blossoms, the summer can’t be long enough for most of us.  Gone are our long days, beach trips, sandals, state fair funnel cakes, and summer berries — and we feel it. Hard.

But Fall also brings its own delights — colorful leaves, apple and pumpkin picking, cornstalk mazes, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. The nights are cool enough for outdoor fires and baking.  It’s the season of the harvest–the time during which we take stock of what has grown outside as well as within and give thanks for it.

I had a lot of big dreams this year. One of those dreams was to finish the second draft of my novel. I had hoped to be done by this time, but things don’t always work the way we would like. I am back on the path, posting here again for whoever might be reading in the hopes of building an audience, and forging ahead with the rewrite. I have about another hundred pages to go before  it’s completed though the work will still be far from done.

I intend to build my social media audience and get more serious in a variety of ventures in my personal existence. Over the coming months, you will begin to see some different posts here about things besides my writing journey. These posts will be inspired by the contents of my book and I hope you will enjoy them. Hopefully, my book will be out within the next six to eight months.

The drapes are closed now on another season (at least on the East Coast) and it’s time to turn within and put my nose to the grindstone indoors. Let’s see if I might bring one of these dreams into being by New Year’s.

 

Yes, I Am Back!

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I realize my last post was in April. I realize my goal to develop a social media presence and build an audience fell to pieces between the excitement of a long-awaited summer and numerous fun events. But I am resurrecting that goal here and now.

My second draft has not been progressing as much as I envisioned, mostly due to my own distractions and indecisiveness, but it is nevertheless progressing. I admit to spending much of this warm season navel-gazing and soul-searching and that time has at least brought me some solid revelations. I have also learned a little bit more on the writing/publishing front. For instance I discovered, courtesy of a fellow writer, that you can indeed create a quite professional looking book cover in Microsoft Word. I have also researched several self-publishing platforms and have settled on one to use. I also have a handful  of potential names under my hat for my publishing company. I will share with you once it is official. 🙂

I hope to get motivated enough again to finish this draft by New Year’s and hopefully put the book out within the next 365 days (from today). Rather than blog every day as I started out doing, I will probably be posting one to two times a month. I may try to upload a short story or two to Amazon, but cannot make any promises at this time.

If this is your first time reading my blog, welcome. If you were following me and are reading my words again after this long hiatus, thank you! Either way, I am looking forward to sharing the journey.

**Oh, and my display name (and the name that will appear on my books) has changed to K.A. Moscatello.**

Write on!