• A writing self challenge

    The e-book I’m working on, A Most Unusual Hexplanation, is a great read.  It has a little of everything—humor, love, family drama, the paranormal. Including all that good stuff has led to the book being longer than I want it to be.

    I’ve decided to limit Hexplanation to 60,000 words. The first draft is already at 62,000 words, and there are some scenes to flesh out, so this will be a challenging task.

    Where did I get my 60,000 word plan? Blame it on being on lockdown for the corona virus. I have way too much free time. When my mind is idle, it tends to wander to strange places.

    But I didn’t come up with this plan entirely on my own. For the past week or so, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos, and not just of baby pandas (but mostly of baby pandas!).

    I’ve watched one video after another where writers give tips on making books more interesting. The writers talk about deleting unnecessary scenes and words.

    And so I’m working to follow that advice because I want to make Hexplanation best seller quality—even if it never reaches best seller status. I want people who buy my book to feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth.  I’ve been cramming the YouTubers’ writing advice into my brain to the point where I feel like it’s about to explode from excess information.

    I didn’t do nearly this much info gathering for my first two books. In fact, I didn’t do any. I just started typing and kept going until I ran out of words to add to the stories.

    But now, I’m a serious writer, and I want to do things the right way. That means getting rid of unnecessary scenes and words.  I’d like to believe every word—heck, every comma—is absolutely essential. Still, I’m going to bite the bullet and cut some stuff from my baby.

    Coming soon!

    I’ve changed the release date of Hexplanation many, many times. At the moment, I’m looking at getting it online in July or August. It’s going to be the most amazing book ever. Well, the most amazing book ever written by Zanna Johns.

    By the way, please tell me that you guys know what the image at the beginning of this post is. If you don’t know, I’m going to feel very, very old!

  • Life as a technically challenged blogger

    Blogging is not my strong point. That may seem like a strange thing to read on anyone’s blog, but it’s true. I enjoy releasing my inner silliness anonymously, so creating articles is not the issue. However, setting up the basic elements of a blog is proving to be a challenge, to put it very mildly.

    I’ve had this site for years, and last week I realized it was missing an essential feature: a way for readers to contact me. You’d think that I would’ve had that in place before my page went public, or at least two or three years in. But nope, not me.

    I went along my merry way, creating posts while doing nothing to promote them. That approach has been less than successful, as I get few visitors. I’m going to work on that issue—as soon as I get all the necessary pieces in place for a good blog.

    I think I’ve set up the contact page correctly. It took a couple days to do it. Seems like it wouldn’t be so hard, right? I tried a plugin to create my contact page, but for some reason, it wouldn’t work. I deleted the plugin and tried another one. Then another…and another…and another…

    Finally, I figured out what was wrong. The confirmations were going to an email address that I never use. In fact, I don’t know if I ever finished setting up the account for that email address. After a couple days of frustration, I got the contact page working right.

    That project completed, I began a new one – coming up with a way  to notify readers of new posts. This turned out to be just as much fun as creating the contact page, but I got it done, and I finally had things properly set up on here. Or so I thought.

    A few days ago, it dawned on me that my page had no footer. How did I miss that?

    I haven’t been nearly as dedicated to fixing that problem as I was with the contact and subscription issues. After all, how many readers care about what’s at the bottom of a web page? I’m counting on that number being zero, because the footer I added is a work in progress and leaves much to be desired.

    With the footer in place – even a crappy one – I was ready to rest easy, knowing all was mostly well with this site. Then today, I discovered a new problem. There’s no privacy policy. No one reads that stuff, but I still need one. I think I do anyway. Who knows?

    I’m not ready to tackle the privacy policy just yet. I need time to recover from the trauma of working on the other things. From the little I’ve read on the subject, creating the privacy policy page promises to be a whole lot of fun for someone as technically challenged as I am.

  • I survived the beta readers!

    I did it!

    I looked at the beta reader feedback for my two-star shame (known on Amazon as Undead of Night) and lived to write a blog post about it. I was a bit hesitant to read the information, even though I’d paid for it. I was worried that I’d become unglued over the slightest criticism about my baby.

    I only used two readers. I sent out requests to three workers on Fiverr, but one person did not respond until six days later. By then, I had the info I wanted. Two beta readers are probably all my fragile writer’s ego can handle right now anyway.

    The ladies who read my work said they liked the stories overall. That led to a surprising issue: I questioned their motives for saying good things. Did they only pretend to like the stories because they wanted bonuses? Or maybe because they want me to hire them to beta read future books?

    I know I’m seriously overthinking this. I do believe the stories in Undead of Night are pretty good, so I shouldn’t be surprised the ladies said positive things about them. If I thought the stories were bad, I never would’ve put them online.

    Some of the weaknesses the beta readers mentioned were issues that I was already aware of. So I’ll take the attitude that the ladies were honest with their feedback. I’m going to use it to polish Undead of Night to the best of my ability.

    I’m going to move that two-star rating up to a solid three!

  • Can I handle the truth? 

    I just had the most amazing idea.

    In order to fix all that’s wrong with Undead of Night (AKA my two-star shame!), I’m going to get feedback from others.  

    You’d probably be horrified to know that I didn’t have the book critiqued at all before I posted it online. My only excuse—I’m just special like that. I like to pretend I can do everything—write, critique, edit and proofread my e-books—without one bit of input from others. 

    Clearly, I’ve been deluding myself. And now I’m going to fix the problem. But how to go about this? I live as if I’m an island unto myself, so I don’t have any online writing friends to call on for help.  

    I’m certainly not going to let family and friends see my work. They might hurt my feelings with the truth. Or even worse, lie to avoid bruising my sometimes fragile writer’s ego! 

    My bank account is not exactly overflowing with money at this moment, so I have to be frugal. That leaves me with using Fiverr, because that site is about as affordable as they come. I used it once to advertise my books. The results were disappointing, to put it mildly.  

    Still, I’m going to give Fiverr one more chance, mostly because broke beggars can’t be choosers. I’m gonna turn my two-star baby, Undead of Night, over to complete strangers to tell me all that’s wrong with it. Can’t say I’m looking forward to that, but I’ll never grow as a writer if I don’t start getting feedback from readers.  

    That sounded pretty mature of me, right? Hope I don’t end up crying like a baby when I read the critiques!