Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WEBSITE UP!

My website is up.  It's simple and clean. It will grow as I do.

http://www.pjmorvantalexander.com


NANOWRIMO


NANOWRIMO is National Novel Writing Month!  If you’re not sure if you can actually write a novel, why not take part in this.  It’s a marvelous personal challenge exercise! You’ll meet other aspiring writers! Make friends and meet other writers in your area as you attend local write-ins.
It’s 50,000 words in 30 days.  It runs from Nov 1st to Nov 30th.  This will be my second year participating. There are no prizes for completing the challenge other than an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

I’ll be using this year’s fall wrimo to write the majority of Fathom, the third book in my Magarelli Series. I can’t imagine this story coming in under 60,000, but I will be sure and reach my goal of 50,000 in 30 days.  Who knows if I get a burn on, I may actually do 60,000 in 30 days. I wrote RELEVANCE in 21 days and it was 75,000 words.  Of course I had a vicious muse who kept me chained to my desk and I was unemployed at the time and could dedicate my entire day and night to writing. Who needed sleep, right?
This time, I am working at an ACSET facility 18 hours a week. They are allowing me make my 18 hours in three days at six hours a day and giving me Mondays and Tuesday off. While I can attempt to reach my 1700 words a day after work, I have Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off in a row to write all day long instead of only five hours a day. They stand behind my writing 100%. I love that.

I will post my progress in this blog perhaps 3 days at a time. Every moment I’m not writing on the novel is a moment I’m not writing on the novel. Capisce?
In nine days, it’ll be NOSEY GRINDSTONE time for this writer. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 18, 2013

A VERY COOL EXPERIENCE


Last night I had one of the most wonderful experiences a writer can have – in my opinion anyway. I was the guest of a small book club at a coffee house. These ladies get a book, then read it, then get together to discuss the story.

One of the ladies works in the same building where I am the receptionist. She suggested I come to the  coffee house so they could meet me. Relevance would be the topic of discussion.

It was a fantastic experience. Each one told me what they loved best about the book and the general consensus was that first they loved the main characters, then they loved the supporting cast. But they went further. They told me what they liked about them and why.  I cannot speak for other writers but this was so important to me personally. It let me know what I was doing right!

Then came the questions! Where did I come up with the idea? What was my inspiration? Were any of the characters based on people out of my own life? All the kind of questions that make you think.

I gave them some insights into book two and three. Book two, EPIPHANY, will be available in just a week or so and I’ll be writing book three during the month of November as I take part in NANOWRIMO 2013.

What is that?  It stands for National Novel Writing Month, 50,000 words in 30 days. November is NANOWRIMO. In my opinion, I think all aspiring writers should take part. If you’ve never written a whole novel or even if you have, this is an excellent opportunity to learn how to write under a deadline. There’s no real prizes; just the knowledge that you can do it. It’s a personal challenge. I’m taking the opportunity to write the third book in the Magarelli Series, Fathom. Others will use it to write fanfic, or stories for anthologies. It’s a great deal of fun and a super online community.  Check it out: www.nanowrimo.com

Friday, October 11, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST


One of the most important things about being a writer is confidence. Confidence in yourself and confidence in your story. But over-confidence can work against you.

 Today I want to talk about the importance of editing. Don’t be so over-confident that you feel you too good to be edited.  Nobody is too good to be edited; I don’t care how long you’ve been writing.  

If you're earnest about wanting you book to be all it can be, you will need an editor. So how does one get over the fear of being edited? I wish I had an easy answer for you. For me, it was knowing that I wanted my story to be the best it could be.  Think of it as a fresh set of eyes, a second opinion.  Editors catch you on grammar, punctuation, spelling, tense, continuity. They’ll help you with rough spots; show how it could read better. They are nothing to fear. In truth editors are the writer’s ally not their enemy. Remember that editors’ suggestions are just that, suggestions. They are not carved in stone. They may offer a better way to get your idea across. A good editor can do that without changing you ‘voice’. They may offer a different direction to make your story more exciting. But again, that’s just a suggestion. It’s up to you, as the writer, to make the final decision.  So don’t be afraid to be edited, because you still maintain the right to accept it or not.

Now for me, I go with whatever punctuation, structure, grammar and tense corrections my editor gives me. Those are my weak points. I trust my editor to find them and make them right. I have a problem with passive writing. Again my editor has my complete trust.  Once you get into characterization, dialogue, and story, then it’s up to me to accept or not any changes that affect the direction I want the story to take. When it comes to those, if I think my editor has missed the point I will talk to her. If she can convince me to change it, then I will. But if I fell short of making myself clear, I trust she will guide me to the best way of correcting that.

Do not fear your editor. Each time you are edited, you will learn. The whole process of writing and being published is an experience that will help you grow. It’s kind of amazing, really! I couldn’t be happier with the process. This is something I want to do for the rest of my days.

 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

INDIE ISN'T JUST INDIANA JONES' NICKNAME


Today I want to talk about the steps I took to be a published indie. Believe me I stumbled around trying to find a publisher and almost fell for one of those ‘you pay us deals’ before a good friend across the sea helped out a floundering author in the ‘colonies’. I want to thank author JD Stockholm (Dear Teddy Series) for the guidance he gave me.  JD you really started something by unleashing this unfettered author on an unsuspecting world! Thank you most kindly for your mentorship.

First I want to talk about the why. Why I decided to go indie instead of mainstream:

Reason number one THE VORTEX: The amount of time one might have to wait to get their book out. Some as long as three years! I’m 65 years old! I want to see my book in print before I croak! 

Reason number two (insert drastic music here) THE DREADED CONTRACT: I love to write. Part of that love is being able to do it at my own speed. I know people who have contracts with publishing houses. The last thing I want to hear is that I HAVE TO write. That’s an imagination killer to me. I needed the freedom to choose when I wanted to write. Once ‘have to’ enters the mix, I balk.

Reason number three, PEOPLE TELLING ME WHAT TO WRITE:  Editors. Now I’m not saying I can’t be edited. No. Not at all. I want editing. No one can go unedited. No one! But don’t tell me my book needs more sex, or more explosions or more anything because that’s what’s in.  I don’t write sex novels. I don’t write romance novels. There are many people out there who are far better at that than I could ever be. It’s not my forte.

I believe in telling a story. If it happens to have sex in it fine. But I’m not going to put it in there just for the sake of putting it in there or, presumably, to sell a book. That’s just not my style.

So, with all that explained, I was lost as to how to get my stories out there. Enter my friend and mentor, author JD Stockholm.  He introduced me to Indie publishing and sent me to a place that has been a ‘dream come true’. Create Space. That’s www.createspace.com . 

Now, I have to tell your right here and now that getting my book published through Create Space did not cost me a single penny. BUT, that’s because I have a background in layout and, being an artist, I was able to set up my own cover. Create Space offers those services at a price. I did pay for two stock photos to create my first cover (a whopping total of $8.00). I use Photoshop 10. My first layer was the man; my second was the Chicago skyline.  This was the result.  



Create Space offers free templates for the creation of your cover. They have some with stock photos or you can upload your own. There’s a blank template for folks like me a DIY person. You spine width is decided by your page count. They make it so easy!

I admit it; I’m a control freak. I wear that crown proudly when it comes to my books. I not only want them to be a good read, I want them to be visually gorgeous!  Create Space offers several different sizes for your book. They offer 15 standard sizes from 5”x8” to 8.5” x 11” or you can actually make a custom size.

I chose the 5.5”x8.5” for my Magarelli Series. They offer free tutorials about layout and copious suggestions regarding the production of your book. I found the majority of these extremely helpful. They also provide a template for your text as well.  When you use them the first time choose the step by step option for layout. Once you’ve done one, you’ll find it gets easier and easie

For my werewolf novels (the Moon Trilogy), I’m going a bit smaller, 5”x8”, as these novels will not be as long as those in the Magarelli Series. So far my Magarelli Series novels are within 90,000 to 120,000 words in length.
 

Of course it’s hard to tell until a novel all written, edited and presented in final form. I just let my stories tell themselves. I don’t really plan to stay within a given word count. But word and page count are always a deciding factors in choosing the dimensions of my books. Because they come in sets, though, whatever I choose for the first book will then carry through the rest in the series no matter what the page count. I like a set to look like a set with uniform outer dimensions save for the thickness of the book which is decided by page count. If book one in a series is 5.5”x8.5”, they’re all 5.5”x8.5”. But that’s just me.

Create Space offers you two types of paper – a white standard and a slightly heavier cream tone. I find the cream tone to be easier on the eyes of the reader and sturdy enough to stand up to rereads and wear.  Their covers are glossy and clean.  The finished product from this company is outstanding in quality.

Books created through Create Space are automatically sold on Amazon.com. You receive an ISBN number at no charge. You can choose your markets including international. You can set your price. AND – and this is a BIG ‘and’ – you can also format your book for e-readers and sell it through the Kindle store. That, to this writer anyway, is very exciting.

Well I’ve talked your eyes out at this point, so I’ll stop for now. Because I was guided by someone, I intend to pay it forward. I’m here to answer questions if you have them. Go over and explore the possibilities. There’s nowhere to go but forward. I did it. You can do it.

 

 

 

Monday, October 7, 2013

HI, I'M PJ MORVANT-ALEXANDER, I WRITE BOOKS.

As an author, I am told I must brand myself. Brand myself?  I am not a cow! (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)
Oh!  Treat myself like I am a brand. Oh…okay.  Well, hm. Try the new and improved PJ Morvant-Alexander, guaranteed to reduce wrinkles, brighten your smile, and make your hair luxurious! What? No? Well what the heck does it mean, brand myself?

Sell myself?  Isn’t that against the law? OH…sell the public on me. Make them want to buy my books, hang on my creative words. Oh.
Well, I can’t really make anyone do anything, so let me just say this: I believe in my writing. I enjoy writing and I think – if you give my first book a look/see – you’ll enjoy it and want more. Yeah, I can write. I love to write. Did it for years in school, won awards for it in fandom, and now I’m confident that folks will be interested in my original fiction. I have something to say! Hence, welcome to my blog.

Here, I’ll be talking about the books I have written and the books I’m currently working on. I also plan to talk about the comparative ease of being an Indie writer; give to you the steps that will enable anyone to be a published author. If I can do it, anyone can. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. There will be more about that in future blogs.

Coming from Louisiana bayou Voodoo country, my personal interests lay in all things scary, unusual and supernatural. Nothing delights me more than a scary movie on a stormy night. I love it all; from ‘things that go bump in the night’, to time travel, to space adventures, to psychic phenomenon.  It is in the latter subject that my first foray into pro writing took hold.
When I first started reading novels at the tender age of 6, I began with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Pellucidar Series and from there I moved to Carson of Venus and eventually John Carter of Mars and finally my childhood hero, Tarzan of the Apes. From ERB’s formula-driven novels of adventures on other worlds, I moved up to Fritz Leiber’s sword and sorcery series about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.  By this time I was very accustomed to the serialization style and actually enjoyed following the characters through their various adventures.

When I first started writing my first novel, I really didn’t have a series in mind. I just had a story to tell. But as it came to an end, I felt sad because I loved the characters I had created. A very dear friend of mine said to me “why don’t you make it a series? There should be a lot of stuff to come up with for a psychic guy!” I gave her a blank look while that comment sunk in and BAM! I realized the wisdom of her words. Consequently, I offer for your edification, The Magarelli Series.

Enter my favorite character to pick on, Alessio Magarelli – an Italian lounge singer, a sweet guy, a mother’s angel and a trouble magnet with a capital M.  And oh, how I do love to get him into trouble. He makes it so easy.

My first book – Relevance – was a learning experience for me as well as a delight to write. I started with a loose outline for my skeleton and, as I wrote, fleshed out the muscle and tissue that became -- what I believe is -- a fast paced story of an everyday guy thrust into a terrible series of events over which he has no control. All he can do is warn people to get out of the way and hope they listen.

Relevance is available at Amazon.com.  You’d do best to go to that site and search Magarelli Series because there are an awful lot of books named Relevance – but only one about my main character Alessio Magarelli. They even let you read a few pages as a sample – dip your toe in as it were. Come on, jump in!
All I ask as an Indie author is – if you like it – please, tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is the best advertisement as it comes from someone who has experienced the book.