Monday, October 17, 2011

Indie Insider - Jill Paterson

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average?

Murder At The Rocks, took me approximately two years to write from start to finish. This included the time taken in having it professionally assessed. My third book, Once Upon A Lie, will probably take me about the same amount of time. Having said all this, it took me 4 years to write my first book, The Celtic Dagger, but at that time I had other work commitments.

How many hours a day do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?

I usually start my day by going for a swim at my local pool. Not only does it give me some exercise, but also the opportunity to speak to people before I retreat into my study at home. Writing is a very solitary activity.

The amount of hours I spend writing/editing each day varies depending on other commitments, but nevertheless it is a minimum of 4 hours a day, and I invariably write every day of the week. If I travel I take my manuscript with me. I also tend to take parts of it to the hairdressers, the dentist, and the doctor. Am I obsessed? I don’t think so. I just hate sitting around waiting when I could be doing something useful.

I feel miserable if I procrastinate so I try not to do it.

How are your book covers designed?

The Celtic Dagger was traditionally published so I had very little participation in its design. However, with, Murder At The Rock, being self published, I was able to have a lot more input. It was designed by Renee Barratt of The Cover Counts. I found Renee through Smashwords and am glad I did. Renee was brilliant; full of ideas and helpful advice.

What do you do when you get writers block?

I don’t know that I get writers block, but sometimes I do feel I need a change of scene. I might take myself off to a coffee shop. If that doesn’t work then a bit of retail therapy might help. My favorite cure, however, is to take a walk in the hills surrounding my home. The views are breathtaking, and there is a sense of peace when all you can hear is the birds calling and the wind blowing through the trees.

How many hours a week do you spend writing?

As I mentioned before, I write everyday of the week so I must spend at least 30 hours. The one thing that can lessen my productivity, however, is if I get caught up on the internet. Consequently, I decided to have specified times that I turn the web on to deal with emails, postings on my blog and any other social media.

Which narrative form and tense do you use and why?

I write in the third person narrative form and in the past tense.

Writing in the third person enables me to have a number of characters points of view. This is particularly helpful when writing a mystery because it enables the reader to see not only what my detective sees, but what collision courses he and the villain might be on.

I write in the past tense because it’s what I’m most comfortable with, and readers might be too. Also, I believe it’s the tense most widely used in story-telling. I think that writing in the present tense there would be a tendency to slip into past tense without realizing it.

Where do you get your ebooks formatted?

I did my own eBook formatting by following the Smashwords Style Guide to the letter. It all went to plan and I enjoyed doing it very much. Once that had been uploaded onto Smashwords, I did a bit of tweaking and uploaded it onto Kindle Direct Publishing. Of course, for those who would sooner have someone do the formatting for them, there are a host of websites that offer this service.

I decided to do this with my paperback edition of Murder At The Rocks. I needed someone who could provide me with a pdf file of my manuscript to upload onto Createspace, and I was lucky enough to find, JeraPublishing on the internet. It wasn’t overly expensive, and I’m sure their expertise in providing me with a good pdf file, helped in making the upload go smoothly. They are also open to making any corrections to that pdf file at a later date.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

Yes. I use a professional assessor who will also copy-edit if I ask her to. Once I have finished my manuscript and feel that there is nothing else I can tweak, I send it off to her for assessment. When she has finished, we meet to discuss any elements that she feels needs work.

For me, it’s important to have someone look at my manuscript with a fresh eye. She will invariably pick up on things that I had not noticed, if only because I have read and reread it so many times.

Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.

I don’t think you can say one social media platform is more important than the other. I think they all contribute in providing you with an author platform. Having said that, however, I do like Goodreads. Not only does it provide the author with yet another place to advertise his/her book(s), do giveaways and meet your readers, it also has some really good author groups where you can communicate with like minded people. Another very important element is that it’s a wonderful place to find new books to read.

I also have a Facebook fan page, I am gradually learning how to use Twitter and I have a blog, The Perfect Plot. All in all, writing is no longer such a solitary occupation!

What are three unique web sites or blogs that you follow on a regular basis? (related to writing etc.)

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I have been traditionally published and now self published, and I have enjoyed both experiences. However, I must say that I have really enjoyed self publishing, Murder At The Rocks. From formatting the manuscript for both eBook and paperback, to having the cover created, before uploading it onto Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace, it has been a great experience. Each of these sites have so much help and support available that I would advise anyone who is interested in self publishing to check them out.

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  1. Her point about writing in the third person is interesting: "This is particularly helpful when writing a mystery because it enables the reader to see not only what my detective sees, but what collision courses he and the villain might be on." She has a good point. But so many mystery series are securely tied to the first person protagonist. It is what readers expect. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of 3rd vs. 1st person?

    J.P. Hansen

  2. Hi J.P. and thank you for yur comment. I think it's a matter of preference whether you write in first person or third. And for the reader also; whether they like reading in first or third. I like both, myself. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages I thought of:-
    First person advantages
    Provides a good opportunity to produce strong characters.
    You are able to imbue personality and emotion into your character easily.
    You can weave thoughts, flashbacks and memories in more naturally.
    The reader can identify closely with the character.

    First person disadvantages
    The writer is restricted to a single point of view. This can make it difficult to create subplots because everything revolves around the one character.
    ‘I’ can be used too much.
    Can be difficult finding ways to convey certain information to the reader.

    Third person advantages
    You can have one persons POV or several.
    It enables the writer to develop a complex story with multiple subplots.
    It is easier to build suspense by switching to another POV character.
    The reader can get to know multiple characters

    Third person disadvantages
    When using multiple POVs there is a possibility the reader will get confused.
    Characters can seem detached and not as intimate as when writing in first person POV

    Thanks again for commenting,