One Year Ago…

Exactly one year ago, I made the decision to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). For those of you who are unfamiliar, November is national novel writing month, with the goal of writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days, ending with 50k words and a complete first draft of a novel in a month.

Many people who choose to participate plan for a month or more beforehand, plotting, outlining, developing characters, etc. Being that I decided the day before to do it, this is what I had planned out to start my novel:

Main character: Cora

Yep, that’s it! I had no outline or characters to go on, I just knew that I wanted the character’s name to be Cora. It was amazing how when I sat down to write, the story just came out. It definitely changed (a lot!) from first to final draft, but I was able to get a story down on the page and ended with 51k words on Nov. 29th, one day early.

My novel was not finished at that point, but I completed the goal for the month. I got busy with my shop literally two days later for the holiday season and was not able to pick my book back up again until February! I ended my first draft around 70k and then let it sit for a month or so and started all over again with the second draft.

I have no doubt that NaNoWriMo is the reason I was able to publish Bake My Day. Without the daily goals, the wonderful writing community, and all of the accountability that comes with participating, I would probably have never seen it through to the end.

That being said, a couple of days ago, I decided to participate in it again this year!!! I wasn’t going to, but I know that it worked for me last year so why not use it again to write book 2? The book I am going to write starting tomorrow was slotted to be book 3, but I am leaning more towards setting the other book 2 aside and making this one book 2.

I’m happy to dive into Maple Falls again and revisit the characters, seeing where life has taken them since Bake My Day! Yes, I know they don’t actually exist, but I think it must be a writer thing ūüôā

I will update weekly on my progress and hope to “win” this year again, completing another 50k in 30 days!!

Shannon

Cover Reveal & Pre-Order!

I am SO excited to finally share my final cover for Bake My Day with you!! I spent many hours looking for the perfect picture and I love the one I chose. I, of course, had great feedback and input from my family. Here it is!!!

bakemyday-graupman-ebookweb

In other exciting news, the kindle version of Bake My Day is now available for pre-order!! You can find it HERE.

I am getting my print preview on Tuesday so the print version should be available for pre-order hopefully by the end of next week. I will definitely let you all know when it is.

My official release date is November 10th. I knew that it would be released in early to mid November, and after looking at the calendar, I knew that would be the day. That date has very special meaning to me so it made sense to choose it.

November 10th is going to be 14 years since my husband and I went out on our first date when I was just 19 years old. That day will now be even more of a special celebration for us.

I hope you love the cover!!! Stay tuned for more information on the print version coming soon!!

I hope you all have a great week!

Shannon

Cover Proof Day!

Today was the day I have been waiting for!! About 3-4 weeks ago, I started setting up my book cover with my designer. I sent her the photo a couple of weeks ago and today was the day that she sent me my first proof of the Ebook cover and the Print cover. Let me tell you….I LOVE THEM! She designed them better than I could have hoped for and I have no changes to make.

Her communication has been phenomenal and she has been so helpful with all of my questions having never been through the process before. She usually emails back within a few hours and always has the answer. I have been following along with her premade covers for months now and I knew that I wanted her to design mine.

Over the weekend I purchased my ISBN number. I opted to buy the 10-pack vs only 1. The cost of two single numbers was the cost of a 10-pack, no brainer in my book. My designer offered to put my ISBN number on the back cover for me along with the barcode for no extra cost.

Once she places that on the back, I will be able to approve my final cover design and she will then be able to make my¬†matching title page and chapter headers. Once I receive those, I will be able to forward them on to my formatter and she will be able to get started. Without those, she can’t do anything. Once she starts,¬†both books (Ebook & Print) should be finished within 5 business days!!

I’m¬†hoping both the cover and formatting will both be complete by the middle of next week so I can begin to upload it on Createspace. I believe I then will be able to¬†order a proof copy and review it, making sure the spine, text, covers, etc all line up in the¬†way they are supposed to.

I cannot wait until I get that¬†book in my hands!! Holding¬†it will be surreal I’m sure.

If you are looking for an amazing cover designer, check out Paper & Sage Designs.

I can’t wait to share my cover with all of you when I get the final copy!

Shannon

Bake My Day!

I am so excited to share some information about my book with all of you! The title of my first book is Bake My Day, set in the small town of Maple Falls.

See below for the back cover blurb!

Yesterday, I finished going through my edits and officially have a final draft! Something I have never had before after writing so many stories over the past few years so the word exciting doesn’t quite cut it.

This week I am working on finding a person to format my book in a print form and also for an e-book. I think I have found a great candidate to do it for me, I am just waiting for the quote to come in.

Next week, I will be getting my first proof of my cover. On Monday, she will be emailing me the first proof she has already been working on. After that, we will tweak a few things if needed and go from there. By Friday of next week, I should have a complete cover design ready to go!! I cannot wait to share it all with you next week.

Everything is starting to come together and I am getting close to the home stretch. These last steps I need to take are a little stressful but I know will be worth it in the end to see a finished product and be able to hold a physical book that I actually wrote in my hands!! Thanks to a very sweet author friend, I feel like I will be able to do this…with a little help from her ūüôā¬† Thanks Harley!

And now…I leave you with my back cover blurb! I would love to know what you think!

           Cora Westerling thought she finally found the one. But as her relationship slowly starts to change, she is forced to make a tough decision. Giving her two week notice at her job, she packs up her life into her tiny car and decides it is finally time to live the life she has always dreamed of living. As a true believer of signs, she follows them along the way until she stumbles upon the small town of Maple Falls. Could this town hold everything she has been longing for?

Bradley Harper is a local police officer in the town of Maple Falls. After losing his wife, he was forced to raise their young daughter Lily all on his own. Working long hours and relying on his parents help, the last thing he has time for is a relationship. Could a new girl in town change all of that?

When the two of them meet on her first night in town, there is something about him she cannot stop thinking about. As their paths continue to cross and the love for his daughter grows in her heart, it seems like fate may have more in store for them than they both realize.

Comment below and let me know what you think ūüôā

Shannon

The edits are in!

Today was the deadline for my editor to have my manuscript completed and returned to me. I just received it and cannot wait to get to work on them and finally have a FINAL draft of my book!! She said that she really enjoyed editing it and that she was a big fan of my story and the message I put out there. She also told me that I did a great job with my first novel and that it is definitely ready to publish!!

It was such a huge relief to hear that, especially from someone else who doesn’t know me. I have let only a couple of people read a chapter or two, and my best friend read the entire thing. She is the only one other than my editor to read it through completely. I have loved the feedback from both and the support and encouragement they have given me that I can do this.

Having support and encouragement along the way has been huge!! Writing is a pretty solitary task and let me tell you, self doubt is a real pain. It creeps in WAY more times in a day¬†than I would like and is not a friend of mine. Having those people close to you reassure you that you are doing a good job, that your writing doesn’t suck as much as you may think it does, and to give you that push to finish and see it through to the end is priceless!!

Like I have said before, I wrote my first story in 4th grade and I have dreamed of reaching this point for SO many years!! I am giddy and nervous and other things I cannot even describe to be this close and having my dream soon be a reality. To be able to see my story in a physical book that I can hold in my hand will be such an amazing moment! If all goes well and according to plan, that should be happening in the next 2 months!!!

If you are out there with a dream that you want more than anything…GO FOR IT! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it, that you aren’t good enough, that no one needs what you can put out there. Truth is, someone does need it and they are out there waiting for it as you read this. Don’t deny the world your talents. Make simple goals along the way, and little by little, you will get there. I have waited 23 years to get to this point and I am so close! I set little goals along the way and they have all been reached.

I am a mother of 4 young children ranging from 9 years old down to 2 years old. I don’t have a lot of extra time in a day to write, but I make sure to do something. If it is only 50 words, 100 words, it still counts towards my finished project. Consistency is the key to success. Keep plugging away at your goals and before you know it, you will reach them.

The world needs your work.

You can do it!

Shannon

The Waiting Game

Over the past two weeks or so while I have been waiting for my book to come back from my editor, I have been using that time to begin the next book in the series. I sat down the other night and mapped out each of the scenes, chose the characters who will appear in each of them, and where they will take place. I know that once I get book 1 back, it will take me away from book 2 so I am trying to get a good solid layout on it while I have the extra time. Book 2 is going to be a novella so I am hoping the process will go quickly and smoothly for the most part.

Once I get my edits back, I will once again go through it and read all of her notes, making changes along the way when needed. Once I am happy with the final draft, I will then send it off to my formatter. I still have to finalize all of that as I do not know how long the edits will take me to complete. I received a message from my editor saying that she is really enjoying my book and that there are notes along the way but nothing major as far as story structure and plot go which was a relief!

I have hired my book cover designer and purchased my stock photo!!! I love the photo just as it is so I can’t wait to see it with my title and name on it! I know I will love it even more. I am on their schedule for the week of Oct 3-7. How it will work is I will give her all of my information ahead of time; stock photo, back cover blurb, author bio & photo, links, etc. and on the morning of Oct 3rd, I will be sent my first proof of the cover. She will have designed it beforehand and then we will work together over the next 5 days to make it perfect. I will have 2 proofs to look at in the end. I have been following her covers for months now and love her work so I have no doubt that she will do an amazing job.

Along with the cover design, I have chosen to add a custom title page and chapter headers to match the font that will be on the front cover. I could have just used plain text but as a personal preference, I love the look of matching text throughout and feel like it will just add that extra touch to my book.

The ebook cover will be complete within the week, but I may not get the print cover right away. My title page and chapter headers won’t be available until that week also so I will have to send them off to my formatter to add and complete first. The cover designer will need a final page count for the spine to be just right so it may take an additional week or so.

Once those two things are complete, it really just comes down to uploading the files correctly and lining up everything on Createspace. As a first time author, it may take me a little longer to figure it all out but I won’t give up until it is finished!!

I have been counting down the days until the editing is complete to move forward in the final steps of the process. I have never gotten this far in my writing and I get more and more excited about it each day as the date gets closer to seeing it again.

As of right now, I plan to reveal my cover around the second week of October and my hope is to release the book in November. I know this process is A LOT of work so I am going to accept that it may be December if need be. 2016 is the year I told myself that I would finally have a book in print out in this world and I will work night and day to see that it happens!

I can’t wait to share more of my book with you in the upcoming weeks and finally be able to introduce you to my characters!!

Shannon

 

 

 

I have an editor!

Last week I decided it was finally time to move forward. I had been over and over my book a lot and I knew I just had to rip the band aid off and do it. I knew everything wasn’t perfect and I could have probably gone over it twenty more times but I decided not to.

I placed an ad for an editor on Upwork.com one night after the kids were in bed and in the first hour, I received 5 applicants. I thought that was a lot and was so excited to read their profiles. Within the next day or two, I had 32 applicants who wanted to edit my novel. Feeling completely overwhelmed on which one was the right one for me, I started with the pricing.

When you post an ad, you can post the amount of money you would like to pay for the services needed. I removed a few whose initial bids were well out of my price range. Not that their services weren’t worth the money, but it was not a price I could pay right now. Most of the applicants were bidding the exact cost of my request which made it hard to choose.

I then moved on to read their proposal written to me about why they wanted to work for me and some included samples of previous things they had edited. Most were written to me but some were just a generic post that they must copy and paste¬†on everything they apply for. Those didn’t seem very personal to me and I really liked the ones who took the three minutes it probably took to address me as a specific client.

Next I was able to view their previous jobs, feedback from other people who had hired them, and scores of spelling and grammar tests they took through the website. After looking at all of these parts, I definitely learned A LOT!!

Here are a few things that turned me off from hiring the ones I chose to pass on. Hopefully this will help you if you ever post a job and will help you by pointing out several things to look for.

  • A professional photo: Some photos were a really disturbing selfie that I found to be very unprofessional. Judging a book by its cover, I know, but for what I am paying, I would like to work with a person who at least appears to be taking this job seriously.
  • Good grammar in their writing: I read one applicants bio and he used no spaces after commas and his grammar was terrible. If it is not written correctly on their end, I have a hard time trusting that they will edit my work well.
  • Good test scores: A few of the applicants scored very low on their spelling tests or English grammar tests. Both I feel are very important skills at least in this job I was asking for. Most were in the top 10% or so but several scored below average.
  • Read their entire query: One lady looked like a good fit at the beginning but as I read further, she told me that she was by no means an editor but loved to read books. Though I’m sure she could offer great feedback, I was looking for someone with editing experience.
  • Ask for a sample of their work: I looked at many samples and they varied greatly! One had added one comma near the top of the page and removed a comma near the bottom. Another had a full word by word edit, rearranging words, punctuations, spelling, through the entire article. Depending on what you are looking for, be sure to look into this. The one I hired had extremely thorough editing.

These are just a couple of the things that really helped me decide on who was right for me. I ended up narrowing it down to two people in the end. One was $100 over my bid, one was $50 under. Feeling both prices were still in my comfort zone, it came down to their experience and editing samples. I felt like one was more of what I was looking for and she had a very reasonable turnaround time so I wrote up the contract and she approved!!

She is scheduled to have the project completed in 3 weeks so I am eagerly sitting back waiting for what comes back. This is a huge part of the writing process and to have it started is very exciting for me!! Once this step is complete, the rest isn’t as stressful and I’m looking forward to seeing it through to the end!

For the next 3 weeks, my plan is to move forward on my outline for book 2. So far I have the characters and a couple ideas. Looking forward to getting some words on the page and see the next installment come to life!

Shannon

Taking Steps & Moving Forward

Last night I finished¬†my third go round on my manuscript. It has taken me 9.5 months to get to this point and I’m happy to say I am still enjoying it and excited to move forward. I’m sure this timeline is¬†long for some people, but for me, it is what works. As a family of six, they will always come first, making my time to write days apart some weeks. With school starting soon, I’m sure I will have a little more time to work but for now I am happy with any progress. I may not be¬†the hare but the turtle did finish the race.

Over the past day or so, I have made a few more steps in the right direction to proceed with publishing. Along with the initial research I did in my last post (found Here) I have proceeded to contact several people who offer the services I need.

This afternoon I placed an ad looking for an editor on Upwork and so far had five people apply. After reading through their resumes, feedback, and work experience, I have narrowed it down to one lady I think will be a great fit. I emailed her back after her initial contact with me and I will wait to see where it goes! It was definitely scary putting myself out there but I know that this is a huge part of the process and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

I also put out feelers in a Facebook group I am in for someone to do the formatting for both the print version and the e-book. I am planning on offering both formats for each of my novels. I played around today with a few ways to format and after an hour of frustration, I determined that it is worth the cost to pay someone to do it for me.

One last thing I did was look through some more stock photos for my other future covers. I have roughly mapped out four books for this series; 3 novels and 1 novella. I am definitely more of a visual person so I thought if I found the perfect cover, the story will come. It turns out, I found the perfect cover for all four books!! I played around with a photo editing website this morning, placing my titles and name on each of the samples. It was really cool to see them all lined up in a row! Little things like that really keep me going and get me excited about creating more books.

I am hoping to hear back from the editor in the next couple of days and will hopefully proceed with that as my next step. The cover is chosen but I cannot proceed with that until I have a final page count for the designer to be able to size the spine just right. I’m learning there are definitely steps you have to take in a certain order along the way. Through trial and error, I will find my way through it.

Shannon

 

Draft 3 and Research

When I finished my last blog post, I was beginning the process of researching the next steps to getting published. There was a little more to it than I originally thought so I am very thankful I started early!

I began by taking a break from my WIP which was really nice. I was able to let the story sit for a week or so and be able to return to it with a fresh set of eyes and a few new ideas to add in the third draft. I am currently working on chapter 11 of 19 so I am making decent progress. Once this draft is finished, I will be comfortable enough with it to send it off to an editor. Once it returns, I will go through all of their suggestions and edits and it should be ready to go! Eeeeek! I cannot wait for that moment!

Before I started any research, I made a list of things I needed to find out or price out before being able to print my book. Here is a list I came up with:

  • Photographer (I was originally going to shoot my own cover)
  • Bakery (Prop for the cover shoot)
  • Stock Photos
  • Cover Designer
  • Editor
  • Copyright
  • ISBN Number
  • Print size for the book
  • Page color (cream vs. white)
  • Price points (Both print and digital)
  • Printing company
  • Business Cards
  • Formatting

Once I made the list, I’m not going to lie, it was a bit overwhelming!!! Being that I am self publishing, I am trying to keep my costs down, at least for the first book. I am most likely going to shoot my own covers for the next two books but after looking through what seemed like hundreds of stock photos, I think I have found the perfect one!! (insert happy dance). Once I decided to cut out the photographer and props, it will lessen my costs by roughly $150. To me, that seems to be the smart play.

With the same list as above, here is the breakdown for the costs of what it will most likely take to get my book to print:

  • Stock Photos: $10-$20 depending on the membership
  • Cover Designer: $70 for digital, additional $50 for full print layout
  • Editor: $200-$400, depending on which editor you hire
  • Copyright: $35
  • ISBN Number: 1-$125 or 10-$250. I plan to do 10 as I have 2 more WIP’s
  • Print size for the book: Thinking 8.5 x 5.5, based on personal preference
  • Page color (cream vs. white): I decided on cream
  • Price points (Both print and digital): Still working on this one!
  • Printing company: Createspace is so far my choice and user friendly
  • Business Cards: Had a coupon code, got 500 for $10!! Score!
  • Formatting: Unknown, still need to research this one further

With all of that above, estimating of course, is roughly $700. I know that there are very cheap ways to go about publishing a book but there are definitely corners I am not willing to cut. If I had to choose one of the above to spend your money on, it would be editor first, and cover design second. (Yes, I know that’s two, haha) One will make the inside look great, and the other will make the outside look great. Both are very important elements and neither should be taken lightly.

My plan is to make a “For Writers” page on my website with all of the links and companies I use to hopefully help anyone else looking into writing and publishing a book. I have found some wonderful ones on other author’s websites and I love how this writing community is so helpful towards one another. Please let me know if you have any questions, I am always here to help aspiring writers!

**Are you a writer or a reader? Or both? What is your preferred genre?

I’d love to hear from you!

Shannon

 

My Second Draft

A couple of weeks ago, I was writing at a pretty good pace, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in my second draft of my novel. That being said, I set myself a deadline of July 1st to finish the entire draft. Because I am going the route of self publishing, I don’t have anyone on the other end telling me to stay on track, putting pressure on me to meet deadlines, or helping me along in any way. Whether this book ever gets finished or sees the light of day is completely up to me.

Today is July 10th…..I just finished my second draft a few hours ago. Ten days passed the deadline I gave myself. Did I fail? Technically, I failed my deadline. But I did finish my draft, even if it was ten days late, I still managed to meet my end goal. I will still continue to set dates and goals along the way while putting the finishing touches on this book and will do everything I can to see it through till the end.

I quickly learned that the first draft’s sole purpose is to tell yourself the story. I had many sections in my first draft that looked like this:

‘boy walks to the counter, picks up his phone, says hi to girl, leaves the room.’

or

‘_________ says hello to the girl working at the _____________.’

Knowing if I dwelled on those missing pieces or more detailed descriptions I was clearly missing, I may never have finished my first draft. That draft is for your eyes only and no one else will ever read it. So keep that in mind and get your story onto paper, no matter how many missing pieces it may have. Leaving those blank lines in my story really helped me when I went back to edit the second draft, standing out to me immediately that people needed names, locations needed names or specific places to be.

When I reached a point in my second draft, it was the perfect opportunity to add in new characters, locations, storylines, etc. A few years back, I had written another full first draft, but never picked it up again having very little time to do so. Still having that story roll around in my mind and feeling like it still needed to be finished, I decided to take a leap and pull some of the characters from that book and plug them in to more minor roles in this book. By doing so, I was now able to comfortably sit with book 1 and 2, ready to dig in and finish them.

I feel pretty good about my second draft now that it is finished. My first draft ended at 57,404 words; my second draft ended at 75,999 words. And yes, my ocd was screaming out to me to go into the story to add just one more word but I was able to resist…at least for now. Knowing that I will be going through it a third time to add more details and take out unnecessary words, it is bound to work itself out.

Having just finished the draft today, I plan to step away from it for a week or so and let it rest, returning to it with fresh eyes and hopefully a few more ideas to tie the story together along the way.

While I take a break from the story, I will begin the other things that go along with publishing a book; cover design, business cards, editors, oh my! Stay tuned to how that experience goes for me…

Shannon