Ruth Ann Nordin's Blog
January 20, 2017
ID 63365994 © Dimaberkut | Dreamstime.com
This past week, I finally took the plunge and downloaded a software called Dragon Dictation onto my iPhone. (I don’t remember how much the app cost. Apparently, I had bought it a year ago when I first heard about it, but I was so scared of the idea of speaking a story that I never used it.) On Tuesday when I was at the dentist with my kids, I searched for speech-to-text software and found Dragon Dictation. Since I saw that I had already purchased it, I downloaded it. I figured, what did I have to lose? The worse that would happen was it didn’t work.
The idea behind speaking your book (rather than typing it all) is to increase the amount of words you can get in each day you work. Has it worked for me? Yes. I was surprised. I though my mind would freeze up since it’s easier for me to think as a type. An author friend suggested I have a couple of things written down for what I wanted to accomplish in the scene before I started speaking the story. She also recommended I go in short bursts instead of trying to talk nonstop for half an hour.
So after scribbling a couple of notes, I told myself I would give it a 2-3 minute try. I hid myself in the bathroom so no one in the house would hear me. (It’s hard to do something like this with someone else around to hear you.) I stumbled through the first couple times I did it. But then I finally managed to get in 100 words that I could actually use in my current work in progress. Encouraged, I recorded more words. I emailed myself the few attempts (just to make sure that part worked). And it did. I copied what was in the email and put it into the document.
I’ve been at this for the past three days now, and today I actually worked myself up to speaking 400 words in the span of 3-4 minutes. Usually, it takes me about a half hour to type out 400 words. I was impressed. While waiting for my kids to get off at the bus stop today, I had spoken a good 2000 words using the small speaking segments. Once the scene was there in my mind, the words came easily. It is a nice benefit that I can speak a lot faster than I can type. So yeah, this method really does work.
I have been able to increase my daily word count by 1,ooo to 1,500 more words. I don’t know if this kind of output will be sustainable. A lot of it may depend on how much I know about what will happen next in the stories I’m working on. At the moment, I know where I’m going in all four books. (Yes, I am currently working on four books at one time.)
As with anything, there are a few drawbacks. (These aren’t major, but I feel like I should mention them.) One, the software doesn’t always know which word I’m actually saying. For example, I had spoken: I want to marry Corin, Loretta. What the software thought I said was this: I want to marry corn lettuce. I also don’t worry about inserting any punctuation. I don’t know authors do that, but I find it easy enough to capitalize the right words and punctuate while I go through the text in the document to clean it up.
Another drawback is that my brain is not used to speaking a story out yet, and I do feel a certain emotional detachment from the story with this method. It’s easy for me to “feel” the story as I type. I’ve been doing this for years, and when I type the story, I am fully engaged with the creative part of my brain. The creative part is intimately intertwined with my emotions. (It’s been that way since I was 14 and writing stories.) When I speak to people, I tend to be logically focused. Speaking a story is forcing me to tap into the creative part of my brain, and I feel like I’m standing on the outside of the story looking in. When I type, I’m inside the characters.
However, when I go through and edit through the material (which I do through typing), I find the creative part catches up to what I spoke, and I can then go in and fill in those emotional details. When I am in the typing mode, I am, once again, inside the characters and feeling everything they go through. I don’t know if I will get to the point where I can speak inside the character’s point of view as well as can type it, but at least if I never do, I can compensate for it. I’m still new at speaking a story into my iPhone.
I’m really happy with this software. I wish I hadn’t dragged my feet on using it. Who knows how much more I could have done last year if I hadn’t let the thought, “I’ll never get the hang of speaking a story,” hold me back? I guess we’ll find out what I get accomplished this year. Then we can take a comparison between 2016 and 2017. Of course, that’s barring anything serious happening, like a family emergency.
January 18, 2017
This post is primarily based off a lot of stress and frustration I’ve been experiencing for the past 48 hours. I feel like I’m a hamster running around in its wheel, desperately wanting to make progress but unable to. I don’t like this feeling. It leaves me unable to sleep. In fact, that I woke up around 2am and haven’t been able to get back to sleep. At the moment, it’s 6am.
I think a lot of people are under the illusion that writers can write one or two books a year then run off to vacations the rest of the year. I blame this illusion on the movies, some blog posts, and some articles that make it sound like all writers everywhere are making a “Six-Figure Income”. I could go into taxes and the like (which greatly offsets what writers get to keep, but I already did that in another post.
Today, I’m going to tackle other myths that have been plaguing me as of late.
ID 35557014 © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com
Myth #1: Writers can write a book in a week or less.
I get it. We live in an instant gratification kind of world. People expect everything right now. But if you want a good story worth reading, it does take time to get a book ready for prime time. Unless we’re dealing with a short story or a writer who has done serious outlining ahead of time, most writers need more than a week to write a book. It takes me 1.5 to 2 months to write a 60,000-word novel. That is just to get the first draft done.
But let’s say for the sake of argument, a writer does manage this feat. The book isn’t ready for publication at this point. The book needs to be edited by someone other than the writer. Writers should never rely on their own ability to edit their work. They will miss things another eye will find. In addition to at least one editor, the writer may have beta readers. I have two editors and four beta readers. It averages me one month for all of these. So from the time I start a book to when I can publish it, the soonest this can happen is 2.5 to 3 months. That is the soonest. That is me have awesome writing days at least 5 days a week where I can seriously crank out the words.
What is the reality? Usually, 3-4 months. Why?
Because….I have a life outside of writing.
Myth #2: Writers are robots who do nothing but write.
We have families and friends. We have bills to pay. We have chores to do. Some of us work outside the home while writing. I’m fortunate enough where I don’t have an outside job at the moment. (That could very well change if my income keeps dropping. Writers don’t make a steady income. This is a myth I’ll discuss in myth #3.)
We have emergencies that pop up. We have car and house repairs that require us to stop writing and focus on fixing them. We get sick or a family member gets sick. Sometimes we need to take time off from writing to tend to things that occur in every day life, just like other people do.
We are not always tied to our computer. But when we are on the computer, we need to answer emails, comments on social media sites, and promote our books. And we need to do these things WHILE trying to get our writing in for the day. It is not an easy balance to deal with.
Myth #3: Income is steady or goes up and up and up and…
Nope. Most jobs you go to have a guaranteed salary or hourly wage. You know exactly what you’re getting each month. When my husband was in the military, I could rely on that money coming in, no matter what happened.
With writing books, this is not the case. Now, I will say that even in previous years, every single month was a mystery. I never knew how well my books would or would not sell. The income was like a rollercoaster. Some months were great. Some were not. Income is not steady.
And income does not ALWAYS go up from year to year. This is a horrible myth that is leading to a lot of despair among some writers who believe they are doing something wrong. SOME authors have seen their income go up every year. But not ALL of them area. I’m one who isn’t. Last year, my income dropped, and this is even after publishing ten books (which is more than I had ever published before in a single year).
Writing can be a very scary profession because you really don’t know how your next book is going to sell.
Myth #4: Writers don’t need word of mouth or book reviews.
Writers desperately need both of these things. Our very livelihood depends on others helping us, but it’s not considered good practice to solicit help. Which is why most of us don’t. We don’t want anyone to feel like they “have” to spread the word about our books or leave us a review. We prefer people who WANT to do it because they love our work. While it’s wonderful to receive a great email (believe me, we need those, too!), we also need your help doing things we can’t do our own.
People are far more likely to trust their friend or family member to recommend a good book to them. If you happen to know someone who would be interested in our books, please let them know. Share a link. Post a tweet. Send an email. Share our books in discussion threads when they fit what the other person is looking for.
Reviews are equally important. I just learned that Amazon gives more exposure to books with reviews on them. I didn’t realize this until recently. It doesn’t have to be a 5-star review. It just needs to be what you honestly think about the book. Reviews give potential readers an idea of whether or not the book would interest them. I understand some people are afraid to review books because they fear the writer might retaliate if they don’t get a 5-star review. In that case, avoid reviewing books by those authors. But please don’t lump all authors into that mold. Your favorite authors should be ones who won’t jump down your throat because you don’t give them five stars. If you feel they deserve less than five stars, then you should be safe to give them less than five stars.
When you find a writer you love, please pass that writer on. It could mean the difference between the writer being able to pill their bills (through increased book sales) or having to quite writing to make money another way. As much as I’d love to say writers don’t need money to keep going, most of us do. Word of mouth is the VERY BEST marketing tool we have, and yet, it is something completely out of our control.
Does anyone else have a writer myth they’d like to share? I know I didn’t cover them all.
January 8, 2017
It came out yesterday, but I’m just getting around to doing the blog post today. (It’s always busy in my house with the kiddos running in and out of my office/bedroom.)
January 1, 2017
It’s that time again. Time for the “First Day, First Paragraph” Tag. Thanks to Rami Ungar for tagging me!
Let’s go over the rules. Once tagged for “First Day, First Paragraph,” you have to do the following:
Publish your own post on the first day of the month.
Use the graphic above
Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
Post the first paragraph of a story you’ve written, are writing, or plan to write someday.
Ask your readers for feedback.
Finally, tag someone to do the post next month (for example, if you do the tag on the first of January, the person you tag has to do it on the first of February), and comment on one of their posts to let them know the good news.
For this post, I decided to do the opening to a very old book that I wrote back in 2008. This was the second romance I wrote. (The first was Falling In Love With Her Husband.) My second (and the one featured in the post) is called An Inconvenient Marriage, and despite it’s flaws in the historical realm, it’s still one of my favorites because of the great interaction between Jake Mitchell, Sue’s brothers and the many suitors who were vying for Sue’s hand. This book has a lot of good humor, which I still enjoy revisiting from time to time.
Here’s the first paragraph:
Jake Mitchell was good at two things: making money and managing people. What he wasn’t good at was getting Sue Lewis to stop coming by the bank where he worked every day. It wasn’t that Sue was outwardly rude, but she was persistent and vocal. This particular day was no exception. He was sitting in his office when he heard her enter the bank.
Thoughts? Comments? Let’s discuss.
Okay, now I have to tag someone. This month, I’m going to tag Lauralynn Elliott.
December 31, 2016
December 17, 2016
Here’s the hotlist I’m referring to in this post: The Happy Ever After blog post featuring the Smaswords Hotlist: Weekly indie romance bestsellers and hot preorders is at this link.
This came as a surprise. I didn’t expect The Bargain Mail Order Bride to be one of the featured preorders. The other authors featured are exceptional storytellers, so it’s a humbling honor to see one of my books there.
Click here to reserve your copy today!
The Chance At Love Series has four books total. The Convenient Mail Order Bride is Book 1. The Mistaken Mail Order Bride is Book 2. The Accidental Mail Order Bride is Book 3. The Bargain Mail Order Bride is Book 4 and completes the series. (It’ll be hard to say good-bye to these characters. I loved all of them, even meddling Ida Conner who couldn’t keep her mouth shut to save her life.)
I contacted Carl Richie to tell him the news since he is the hero of this book, and he agreed to stop by the blog to talk about it.
Carl: so sure this whole thing is a joke that he isn’t even getting out of bed for the interview
Carl Richie: Is this a joke?
Ruth: A joke? No. I wouldn’t go through all the trouble of making this blog post when I should be writing to bring you in here if this was a joke.
Carl: In my experience, nothing has ever gone in my favor. My father brought me to the Colorado Territory to live in the mountainside when I was a kid. He then betrayed my mother by taking a mistress which ended up being the reason she killed herself. Then my father forced me to marry a woman who made me miserable until she was murdered. All I want to do is find the gold in that stream Abe and I keep fighting over so I can get out of this place.
Ruth: I didn’t bring you in here so you could depress us. You need to be happy. Originally in this series, you were supposed to be an unredeemable bad guy, and those tend to end up getting shot. But then when I was writing the scene where you and Abe were duking it out in the barn, I realized you believed that your father had favored your half-brother, Abe. It was at that moment, I knew you had a good side to you, and I knew I would be writing your book (The Bargain Mail Order Bride). This is the book, by the way, that made the list in the Happy Ever After blog post.
Carl: So what you’re saying is that if I hadn’t been such a jerk in Book 1, then you wouldn’t be getting the fame of being in that blog post?
Ruth: Carl, this isn’t about me. You are the reason people want to read the book. They’re interested in seeing you get your happy ending. This is all about you.
Carl: I don’t know. It just seems like it’s too good to be true.
Ruth: Maybe this happened to show you that good things can happen. And besides, you will be getting a happy ending. This is a romance, not a horror novel.
Carl: I heard you plan to kill someone in this book.
Ruth: That person isn’t you.
Carl: Is it Abe?
Ruth: *gasps* How could you even ask that, Carl? Abe is the hero of the first book in this series. I never kill off my heroes.
Carl: But if you got rid of him, I wouldn’t even have to get another wife in hopes I can have a child so I can hold onto that stream.
Abe, Carl’s half-brother, stops by to pay a visit.
Abe Thomas: You think Carl is redeemable? Really? He would be happy if I died.
Carl: And you were hoping I killed my first wife so that I could face the hangman’s noose, thereby allowing you to get the stream.
Ruth: Neither one of you should want the other to die. You two are half-brothers, and more than that, by the end of this series, you two will be friends.
*Carl and Abe start laughing because they don’t believe me.*
Ruth: I’m serious. You two are going to finally make amends. It’s the one thing the people who’ve been reading this series want more than anything else. It’s time for you to bury the hatchet.
Abe: The only hatched that should be buried is the one that goes right into Carl’s back. Make his book a horror novel. No one will mind. His first wife can come back from the dead and get rid of him. Or the new wife can do us all a favor and continue her life of crime and kill him for the gold once he finds it.
Carl: You see what I have to deal with, Ruth?
Abe: Don’t tell me you didn’t hope that my wife would go psycho at some point and kill me.
Carl: Ruth, I will never be friends with Abe. I won’t even go anywhere near his cabin.
Ruth: Sure, you will.
Carl: The only way I’d step foot into his cabin is if I’m dragged there against my will. And even then, I’d run out of there.
Abe: And you wonder why I picked this for Carl’s picture in the Booklaunch page for my book, The Convenient Mail Order Bride. All he does is whine.
The picture that Abe uses to portray Carl, and this bothers Carl to no end.
Carl: Not only are you posting that picture that looks NOTHING like me, but you’re also trying to promote your stupid book.
Abe: See what I mean? Whine, whine, whine.
Ruth: Both of you are disappointing me. I started this post in an attempt to celebrate the good news about the Happy Ever After blog post, and you two are going off into this horrible tangent. How are people supposed to want to read The Bargain Mail Order Bride with all of the mudslinging that’s going on? Let’s bring in the heroine of this book to see what she thinks of this exciting news. Juliet, are you happy about this announcement?
Juliet, the heroine of The Bargain Mail Order Bride
Juliet Gilbert: I was happy about it until I read through this post. Are Carl and Abe going to act this childish in the book? Because if so, I might have to reconsider picking Carl’s mail-order bride ad.
Carl: *whistles* That’s what Juliet looks like? I had no idea she was such a babe. Okay, sign me up. We’re doing this book!
Ruth: If I had any idea it was going to be that easy to make you stop arguing with Abe, I would have had her jump into the post sooner.
Carl: This book does contain sexual content, right?
Ruth: It does, but you’re not exactly the most sexually enthusiastic hero I’ve written.
Carl: Did you make me impotent?
Abe: *laughs* That would be hilarious! Please say you did this.
Ruth: I didn’t do that to Carl, but he has his reasons for not wanting to be in bed with Juliet right away.
Carl: Right away? Then I do get to enjoy lovemaking with her at some point, right?
Ruth: It’s a romance, Carl. There’s a guaranteed happy ending.
I’ll end the interview on that note. But I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who’s stuck with me through the years. It’s because of you I’m still publishing books. Believe me, that blog post wouldn’t have been possible without you. :)
Carl in bed with computer: ID 35032645 © Wavebreak Media Ltd | Dreamstime.com
Abe Thomas: ID 43759300 © Artofphoto | Dreamstime.com
The picture of Carl that Abe picked out: ID 42649795 © Svetlana Dodukh | Dreamstime.com
Juliet having second thoughts about her role in the book: ID 11312418 © Candybox Images | Dreamstime.com
December 15, 2016
Before I go into the post, I want to let everyone know The Bargain Mail Order Bride is now on pre-order on Amazon.
This is due out January 7!
(This is the final book in the Chance at Love Series. Book 1: The Convenient Mail Order Bride; Book 2: The Mistaken Mail Order Bride; Book 3: The Accidental Mail Order Bride)
(If there is an Amazon country you buy from that I didn’t list, please let me know, and I’ll add it.)
If you haven’t pre-ordered it on the other channels yet but want to, here are the links:
That aside, let’s get started on the two series I’m working on…
This series contains the following books: Wagon Trail Bride (Book 1), The Marriage Agreement (Book 2), Groom For Hire (Book 3), and Forced Into Marriage (Book 4)
I’m in the last chapter of Groom For Hire
Yay! I don’t know if I’ll finish the book this week or next, but I plan to go through my initial edits during the full week my kids are all off for Christmas break. After that, I’ll send it out to my awesome editing and beta reading team.
This turned into a cute romance where the battle of the sexes was at play. It took some rewriting to keep things light and fun. The main characters had a tendency to go off into tangents that led to dead ends, so I had to go back and redo key conversations to keep them on track. I had to do the same with Sue and Jake in An Inconvenient Marriage. Some characters need more of a nudge than others. Looking back, however, the banter between the hero and heroine makes me chuckle and is the strength of this particular book. (Not every book I write is meant to be serious. This one isn’t necessarily a comedy, but it is definitely light and fun.)
This is not currently on pre-order but will be soon. I’m estimating this will be out in mid-February, but it’s up to my publisher to set the real date. I need to work around their publishing time table.
I’m going to write Book 4 in the Pioneer Series. It’ll be called Forced Into Marriage.
I don’t have a cover for this yet
I was thinking over this story early this morning, and I pretty much mentally mapped out most of the storyline. Maybe this will be the one book in this series that isn’t going to be difficult to write. Basically, the plot this: a divorced man is forced to marry a pregnant woman because the group of men who’d been abusing her don’t want to deal with the child she’s going to have. The man is divorced because the wife he loved committed adultery and left him. The woman is a Native American who’s the sole survivor after her tribe was raided, and the men had been using her as a sex slave. To get rid of her (because they don’t want to deal with the child she’s about to have), they shove her off on our hero who wants nothing more than to curl up and die somewhere. Needless to say, these two very wounded characters will find a new purpose to live in each other.
I’ll try to work on a better description, but descriptions are the hardest part of the story for me to write.
The Marriage by Bargain Series
This series contains the following books: The Viscount’s Runaway Bride (Book 1), The Rake’s Vow (Book 2)…and the other two are what I’ll discuss below.
I just hit 20,000 words in The Rake’s Vow today
Click here to reserve your copy today!
I’m very happy with the progress this book is taking. Loretta’s showing considerable growth. Celia, however, still has a long way to go, and I suspect that by the end of this book Celia and Loretta are going to have a falling out. I don’t often do that to characters who are friends, but in this case, I can’t see how it can go any other way, especially since this falling out will impact where the series leads.
Which I shall now discuss…
I received some feedback where several people have assumed that Corin would end up with Candace, and Celia would end up with the Captain. My original plan was to actually do the opposite. Pair up Corin with Celia and Candace with the Captain. I then considered the fact that since the people I got feedback from were all seeing a connection I was missing. I discussed this at length with someone because I wanted to see what everyone else was seeing that I wasn’t. I really don’t want to pair up a couple who will turn out to be unpopular with you guys. I want these books to be something you’ll want to read.
So this is where I see the rest of the series going…
Corin will end up with Candace. Neither will want to be married. Candace is a widow who was married to Lord Hedwrett. Now, if you’ll remember Lord Hedwrett was a horrible husband. She hated him because he controlled every aspect of her life. Because of this, all she wants to do is be a widow with freedoms she never had before. Corin has his own reasons not to want to marry (at least not yet), though I have to figure those out. I’m not sure how I’m going to get the two together, but I will.
Celia will end up with the Captain. I know this is a mean thing to do to one of my characters, esp. a captain, but I’m going to injure him so that he’s confined to London. It’s the only way I can get him off the ship and married. Anthony is going to arrange for Celia to marry him. I don’t know the details of how, but the captain will be forced to accept it. Neither the captain nor Celia will be happy with this match. Celia will still be pining for Corin. The captain will see her as a spoiled brat (which she is). This is the book where she will be forced to mature.
I’m looking forward to where these series are heading. It’s times like this I wish I could write more than three books at a time because I’d love to get to all of these today.
December 10, 2016
I am way behind in making a post. Between some stuff going on in my personal life and having issues pop up around the house, I’ve had little time for anything that isn’t related to actually writing. Blog posts are the extras I do.
November 28, 2016
I sent out an email on Friday to the three winners of my giveaway, and so far only one person replied. So this is a reminder post. Please check your inbox or your spam folder. The email I sent out wasn’t returned to me, so I know it made it through.
sherry1969 – You won a signed paperback copy of His Wicked Lady.
cissie150 – You won a signed paperback copy of The Accidental Mail Order Bride.
As I said earlier, please check your inbox or spam folder. If I don’t hear back from you in a week, I will assume you’re no longer interested in the book you won and will put the books back on my shelf.
November 25, 2016
First off, the winner of the Amazon $50 Gift Card is Laurie whose comment on Zina Abbot’s Bridgeport Holiday Brides’ post was drawn at random.
But I do have three winners over here for the giveaway I was doing. (I only put people in who left their email address, just as I said I would in the other post.) I’ll be emailing the winners as soon as this post is up, so please check your inbox if you won!
Here they are:
1. sherry1969 – You will get a signed paperback copy of His Wicked Lady.
2. parisfanca – You will get a signed paperback copy of Wagon Trail Bride
3. cissie150 – You will get a signed paperback copy of The Accidental Mail Order Bride
Thank you to everyone who entered. Rose Gordon is planning to run another giveaway blog hop, which I believe will be in January. By then, I should have a new book out to offer.