Went Back to Dictation

I was having a hard time getting emotionally into the stories when I was speaking them into the Dragon dictation software I have.  So I had decided to put the thing away, and I went back to typing.

But then the whole thing with my eyes happened, and I was forced to return to the dictation software.  Some authors have ghostwriters.  They give the ghostwriter what they want written, and they let the ghostwriter do that work.  That is not an option for me.  I want to be the author of my own stories.  If they suck, they suck, but they will suck on my merit.

So I had to go back to the drawing board and pick up the dictation software once more.  Fortunately, nothing is wrong with my voice.  I just returned to speaking my stories again this past week, and I guess all the practice I had up to this point paid off because I no longer have trouble emotionally connecting to my characters when I speak the stories.

I learned a couple of tips that might help others who want to experiment with dictation software or who need to use it.

1. Have a plan before speaking the story.

I’m not a plotter by nature, so this one took a little time to adjust to.  I don’t have the whole book (except for The Bride Price) mapped out.  I do, however, come to the dictation session with the scene planned out.  What I need is how the scene will begin, a goal I have for the scene, and an idea of how it will end.  Then I try to speak the entire scene in one session.

I will sit still and close my eyes for about five minutes.  During that time, I visualize the scene in my mind.  Some people might want to write notes.  I don’t.  If I can picture the scene, I’m good to go.

2. I speak in quick bursts with a few seconds of breaks between sentences.  And I don’t rush the speaking for the sake of accumulating word count.

Word count is a huge thing for me, but even with speaking, I average 2,000 to 3,000 words a day.  I don’t know how authors do it when they are used to doing 5,000+ words a day.  I aim to write 5 days a week, and I take 2 off.  Maybe the authors building up serious word count take longer breaks than I do.

Anyway, I have learned that a complete session for me ends up being a half hour.  That is how long it takes for me to get through one scene.  One scene averages 1,000-1,500 words.

I’ll start speaking 1-2 sentences.  Then I’ll pause.  Sometime I redo the sentences.  Sometimes I keep going.  But I have found when I focus on getting 1-2 sentences out at a time, I don’t feel the pressure to hurry up and get the whole scene out.  (When I rushed the scene, I was able to get 1,500 words in 15 minutes, but I ended up deleting or rewriting half of it.  So slow works better.)

3. I do edit as I go.

If I notice the software got something wrong, I will pause and correct it.   Speaking in short bursts is good for this.  I’m able to delete stuff that is repeated or change most misspellings right away.  Doing this makes my work easier when it’s time to insert the dictated segment into my story and polish it up.

4. I don’t add punctuation because my focus is on the story, but I do insert what I spoke into my work in progress right away and work on it so it’s fresh in my mind.

I know some authors who work better when they add the punctuation.  If that’s you, then do what works.  I just know that for me, getting bogged down into the technical aspects of writing will break my concentration.

To compensate for this, I will work on the scene immediately after it’s spoken.  If I do that, it’s fresh enough in my mind where I know where the punctuation goes as I’m reading through the text.  I also pick up misspellings and words that were picked up incorrectly by the software program (their vs. there, to vs. two vs. too, etc) right away.  I can polish up the scene in about 15-30 minutes.  If I wait until later in the day, it takes me about an hour.  If I wait until the next day, I’m probably going to be at it for 1.5 hours.  The sooner you can polish up the text, the better.

Results:

Basically, I’m maintaining the same speed in word counts that I do when I type.  I didn’t get faster, as I had hoped back in January and February.  But I’m okay with that because my primary concern is being emotionally engaged with my characters.

Anyone got any tips they’d like to share?

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Taming The Viscountess is Now Available!

Can someone like Celia be likable?  You’ll have to judge that one for yourself. 😀

taming-the-viscount-ebook-cover

Here are the books in the Marriage By Bargain Series:

  • The Viscount’s Runaway Bride (Book 1)
  • The Rake’s Vow (Book 2)
  • Taming The Viscountess (Book 3)
  • If It Takes A Scandal (which will be out in September) (Book 4)

Here’s the description:

Miss Celia Barlow has always gotten what she wanted. Whether it’s been clothes, jewelry, or social prominence, all she’s had to do was snap her fingers, and it was hers. So when she sets her sights on a certain gentleman, it only makes sense that she should get him, too. Except it doesn’t work out the way she expects. The trap she planned ends up backfiring on her, and the love of her life ends up with someone else.

Upon finding out what Celia did, her brother is furious, and he sets out to marry her off to the first gentleman who’s willing to marry her. That gentleman just happens to be Captain Sebastian Egan who recently inherited his older brother’s title and troubled estate. Add to that his own debts and the fact that his injury prevents him from going back out to sea, he needs money. He doesn’t care how he gets it. He just needs it. And as soon as possible. So he agrees to marry Celia in order to get her dowry.

When Sebastian realizes just how spoiled she is, he takes it upon himself to teach her that her days of manipulation are over. With him, the rules have changed. And he’s determined to prove to everyone that someone like Celia can be tamed, even if it’s going to take a battle of wills to do it.

Quick disclaimers: If you like my kind of humor (which I admit can be quirky), you’ll probably enjoy this book.  Also, this is one of those rare books where I actually have an alpha hero, so if you’re curious to know what an alpha hero looks like in my books, this is the one to check out.

That aside, here is where you can find the book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

Smashwords

(If I didn’t add an Amazon country you shop at, let me know, and I’ll add it to the list in the future.)

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Random Thoughts on Strong Heroines, Multi-Author Stuff, Who To Write For

I notice that a lot of romance readers do not like strong heroines.

I think those of you who read my books are the exception.  Often, I hear over and over that people like my sweet heroes and the fact that my heroines aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves.  But when I look at comments I get on Wattpad, the majority of people there hate the fact that Sue Lewis (in An Inconvenient Marriage) is so strong.  There is one chapter in particular where they get especially upset with her.  I’m a lot like Sue Lewis, so when I see their comments, I often wonder, “Would these people like me if they were to meet me in real life?”

Sometimes the strong heroine can come across as a you-know-what.  She can be seen as bossy, temperamental, and rude.  They instinctively feel sorry for the hero, or they think the hero is a wimp for putting up with her.  If only they could see how my marriage is…  My husband is a beta hero.  I am an alpha heroine.  I don’t necessarily act alpha at all times, but when push comes to shove, I’m a Type A personality.  I lead because my husband tends to look to me to make the decisions.  He has a more relaxed and easy-going personality.  So I guess we do write what we know to some degree.

And before you think I became a Type A after marriage, the truth is, I was always a Type A.  My mom used to joke that I was like Lucy in the Charlie Brown TV shows and comics (except I wouldn’t pull the football away from the poor guy).  My mom and sister were both Type B’s.  My dad was a Type A.  I take after him in a lot of ways.  So I guess we can blame my dad for how I turned out. 😛

I think Type A’s and Type B’s naturally complement each other.  The people I have been closest to in life have been Type B’s.  I don’t see Type A women as being rude and overbearing.  I see them as being the type who isn’t afraid to go out and get what they want, but they aren’t usually the most popular personality type.  I think Type A’s (esp. women) tend to rub a lot of people the wrong way unless they suppress that side of their personality (which I do).  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to “tone it down” so I don’t come across so much like a “Lucy”.  My husband, however, might not agree.  But then, he gets to see the real me all the time.  (Lucky guy.  LOL)

Multi-author promotions are only good if an author is with other authors who write books similar to theirs.

I did a boxed set with authors I hadn’t read.  (Well, I had read one of the author’s work.)  I made a serious error in judgment in joining because my book was not a good fit for the set.  The authors in the set all sell very well, so they write books that a lot of romance readers want.  Judging by the reviews, these authors write alpha heroes.  Looking back, I realize the best thing I could have done was decline to join.  It probably would have been best for those authors if I had because over and over the consensus among the readers who were familiar with those authors did not like my hero because he was a “wimp”.

It was a good experience because it taught me that when doing a multi-author set of any kind, it’s best to join if the stories will complement each other.  You want authors similar to you to work with.  Otherwise, you’re going to piss off the audience and possibly hurt the other authors in group.  (I hope I didn’t hurt sales for any of the other authors I was in that set with.)  So I guess that would be my advice to any authors reading this is to make sure you are a good fit for the authors you are working with.

On the debate of “write to market” or “write for yourself”…

I love self-publishing.  It has given me the freedom to write the exact story that I want.  I don’t have to write something a publisher wants me to do.  I can create the stories and characters the way I want.  That doesn’t mean I don’t ask for opinions from people who like my books.  Their opinions are very important to me.  I started writing the stuff I did without any feedback because I had no author platform at the time I began publishing.  To be honest, I didn’t think anyone else in the entire world wanted to read the kinds of romances I was doing.  But since then, I have been fortunate to meet people who actually enjoy my work, and now I take them into consideration with every book I write.  I’m no longer just writing for me.  I’m writing for them, too.

There’s a huge debate on whether to “write for yourself” or “write to market”.  I know of authors who write specifically for a popular market, and they do very well.  This is going to have to be something you decide on.  I happened to love historical romances and the tropes already popular in the genre (marriage of convenience, arranged marriage, mail-order brides, just to name a few) when I began writing romances.  However, I’m a big fan of beta heroes, and those tend not to be as popular in the genre as alpha heroes are.  So I mix and match.  I can’t write completely to market.  To do so would make me lose interest in the story.  But I don’t completely exclude the market when I write.

As you write, I think you’ll find your comfort zone.  I don’t think it has to be one extreme or the other.  I think there’s wiggle room.  Writing somewhat for yourself will probably mean less sales.  I don’t sell as well as I probably could if I were to write completely to market.  Now, if you’re writing for a publisher, then you need to write for the publisher’s market.  Otherwise, the publisher won’t take the book.

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