Posted in For Fellow Writers, The Ponderings of Life

My Journey as a Self-Published Author

As most of you saw on my Facebook page, yesterday marked my fourth anniversary of self-publishing Bridget’s Journey on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Wow. It really seems like yesterday I was editing this book with a friend of Mom’s in her kitchen, pestering Sandrine to finish painting the cover and crying over how difficult it was to get the formatting just right. It seems like yesterday that I held this book in my hands for the first time. It seems like yesterday that friends and family overwhelmed me with their support and encouragement. For once, I believed in myself as much as they believed in me.

Now, four years later, I’ve sold probably about 40 (or 50? I’m not good with numbers) of paperbacks, countless Kindle editions and I even published a second novel. Four years later, my books are still up on Amazon for anyone (friend or stranger) to pick up and read the words that I wrote. Four years later, my books are in my church and public libraries. Four years later and I’ve written three and a half more novels. Four years later and I still love to write.

Continue reading “My Journey as a Self-Published Author”

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Posted in For Fellow Writers, Words Upon Words

Less is More

Well, here I am after a whole summer of no blogging. In my last post (in May!!) I mentioned wanting to get better at blogging more frequently and proceeded to do…not that. However, I have realized time and time again that we can do nothing to fix how we have acted in the past…but we can attempt to do better in the future.

This month and last I have thought a lot about different posts I’ve been wanting to write up about a plethora of topics. And then there was a day when I wondered if my blog needed a more distinct focus. Looking over the collection of blog posts I’ve made over the past two years, I have written everything from an account of my summer adventures, book reviews, writing updates on current and future projects, NaNoWriMo, mission trips…the list goes on and on. The only recurring theme is my desire to follow the Lord’s lead in my daily life and to continue writing the stories that are constantly buzzing in my head. And I recently decided…that that’s okay. So, my blog is a little bit random in both the timing of its posts and its topics. My personality is kinda like that, too–I like and do a variety of things at a variety of times. Why don’t we just go with it? 🙂

What I want to focus on today is a phrase I’ve been dwelling on for a number of months. Pretty much ever since my aunt edited Everlasting with me two years ago. Any of you who have read my work recently know that I have a habit of being…a little wordy. The more I write, the longer my novels get…which is a natural process–but to an extent. The first book I ever finished was perhaps around 60 pages. My second was closer to 100. Bridget’s Journey was 200 pages once printed and so on.

When I finished writing Everlasting in 2014 (I believe) it was around 125,000 words long. Aunt Andrea helped me get it down to 120,000, but regardless, when printed, it is close to 350 pages. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. When I hold that thick book in my hands, do I feel a sense of accomplishment? As in, I wrote ALL of this? Yes, of course, I do! But is there a time and place for it? Another yes.

When reading through the red notes Aunt Andrea sent me for Everlasting, the phrase she repeated most often was: remember, less is more. I’m not sure I fully appreciated what she was trying to tell me until long after I had published Everlasting. I know not all writers are like me, but I personally get very attached to certain scenes and paragraphs. And when someone (who is obviously outside of my head) shakes their head and says… “that’s a little convoluted” or “I think you could say the same thing in half the amount of words”…I take it as an offense. Or I just don’t want to let go. “But I worked hard to put those sentences together!” I think. Or, “But isn’t that such a great sentence?” or “doesn’t it sound so good, though?” Maybe. Maybe it does. But is it necessary to tell my story? Not always.

Why is the phrase Aunt Andrea had to repeat to me over and over so important? I think the main reason is this: when I’m trying to tell a story with a certain set of characters going through a certain set of circumstances, in my attempt to tell my story in a beautiful, exciting or descriptive way, the true message or meaning of my story (in part or as a whole) can get lost. Lost in all those words. For example, when I was describing Azalea’s wings transformation or her farewell speech to her friends at Fairy Meadow, the true awe of those wings or the poignancy of her speech can lose its shine if I go on and on either about things that don’t matter or about something I’ve basically already said ten times over. If I take twelve okay sentences to say something that I can write in three to five, then are my readers really understanding the importance of the main message?

I am a visual person and I like to be mentally prepared for anything I come across. When I’m reading a book, I like to know exactly where my characters are, how old they are, what they look like, etc. Only then do I feel at peace and ready to go on whatever adventure lay ahead of them because I can picture them clearly in my mind. Hence, that desire leaks into my own writing. So, I over-write.

When I finished writing Bridget Returns almost exactly one year ago, it was 136,000 words. But as a sequel to a 50,000 word novel, I knew it didn’t need to be longer than Everlasting. So I went back and edited in January. Now, I’m editing again. I started several different subplots when first writing this novel, but many either didn’t come to a conclusion or the conclusion wasn’t very satisfying. How much better could Bridget Returns be if I spent my time solely focusing on a main three to five plots instead of having scattered attention over ten to twelve? That’s what I’m hoping to find out.

I hope I’m slowly (quickly??) learning to apply the concept of “Less is More” in my writing life and that the next time I edit a book with Aunt Andrea, I will be better able to accept her comments and be willing to see what my story could be instead of what I think I want it be. Because it can always be better.

The more talk, the less truth. The wise measure their words. Proverbs 10:19

Posted in The Ponderings of Life

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today I published my first blog post on For a Thousand Words.

In one year I have written 30 blog posts exactly (not including this one) and I have 30+ e-mail/Wordpress.com followers. It has been one fun year filled with accomplishments and failures, hard work and rewards! I enjoy blogging more than I thought I would, but even more, I found a lot more to say than I ever thought I would. Over the past six months I have not posted as often as I would have liked, though, so I will try and do better this semester.

To celebrate my blog’s anniversary, I’m going to give you a brief variety of information.

First, I would like to give you an update on my reading and writing. I just finished book #16 of 40 and I have four library books to work on, so I hope to catch up on my reading soon! As for writing, it’s a bit of a longer story. To start off, I recently gave myself a sort of scheduled plan for the next few months. I have a lot of different projects in the works, so I wanted to organize and prioritize. For the month of August, my goal is to finish going through The Whistler Daughters once and then send it my excellent editor, Aunt Andrea. I only have three chapters left, so I think that goal will be completed in time! For the month of September, I want to finish re-reading what I’ve already written for Bridget’s Journey the Sequel (my NaNo 2015 novel) and finish writing it. Even though I would love to finish this in a month, I honestly don’t know how long it will take me. I’m only halfway through the sequel, so there is still a lot of story left to figure out and write before it is finished. But as long as I stay focused, I should have it done in time for NaNoWriMo in November. Assuming I finish writing the sequel in September, I want to outline my NaNo novel during the month of October. Then, I would be able to start writing it during November. I’ll keep you updated on how it all goes!

Second, I have some great news! Bridget’s Journey is FREE once again on Kindle this weekend ONLY! Today, tomorrow and Sunday it’s available to download on your Kindle or Kindle app for free, so go get it and tell your friends! 🙂

Bridget's Journey Free on Kindle.jpg

Third, I would like to finish this anniversary post with a few of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite authors. Enjoy!

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. ~Jane Austen

I’ll not listen to reason… reason always means what someone else has got to say. ~Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

The thing is, if in your life, you never got any bad news, never got weary, never got the wind knocked out of you, well, there would be nothing left in this world to move you. And there would be no reason at all to well up in a teary smile and hold on tight to everything you love. I know now that that’s the whole point. That’s the whole point to everything. -Beth Seidel Levine

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

Long Time, No See!

Good afternoon, readers! First of all, I apologize for my lack of blogging over the past few months. The last post I made was in March, I believe, announcing my mission trip to Kenya. This post I started in February and never got around to finishing, so before I continue, I’ll share with you what I started writing on February 26–it’s actually some big news. 🙂

February, 26

50,000 Words Reached!

As of last night, I have FINALLY reached the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count goal for the sequel to Bridget’s Journey! Schoolwork has kept me away from my book a lot lately, to the point that I really only have time once a week to dedicate to writing–on Thursday afternoons when I visit my writing buddy, Erin, during my sister’s music class. That is why nearly three months later I just finished writing the 10K I was missing at the end of November. This story is coming along slowly-going with maybe a few too many different story lines, but overall, I’m happy with where Bridget and Cynthia are headed. I have the bulk of the story planned out with a little elbow room for spontaneity here and there for those times when ideas come out of the blue.

Since writing the above, I honestly haven’t written much more in the sequel. I probably have only written about 5,000 words since I reached 50K in February. This spring has kept me busy with lots of homework from my college classes, family and friends visiting at different times and preparing for my high school graduation. I finally finished my college and co-op classes by the first week of May and spent the last two weeks of school before graduation finishing Jane Eyre and Math. I graduated last Saturday and since then have been enjoying my time with our grandma visiting from Canada–and READING.

I love reading. I missed reading so much. Since finishing college classes, I’ve finished reading two books (not including Jane Eyre) and I’m looking forward to reading many more this summer and catch up on my reading goal. Of my goal of 40, I have read 9 so far. So, I might have to adjust my goal to 30 again like last year, but hopefully I’ll be able to read a lot this summer!

That all being said, I have not written much lately. However, now that summer is in full swing, I’m hoping to get back at it. I wrote a couple of good scenes last month and I like how Cynthia’s character is developing. However, before I get back into writing again, I think I’m going to take a little break and start editing The Whistler Daughters for the second time. I’m hoping to self-publish it by fall of 2017, so in order to get that done, I’d like to edit it by myself over the summer before sending it to my aunt to start reading it herself. I don’t know how long that will take, it will depend on how much I can get done in between the different trips I have set for June, but hopefully I’ll be able to write now and again throughout the summer, too.

To finish out this post, I’d like to share some pictures from my graduation weekend. I’ll have to make an official, proper post about graduation and another one about my thoughts on Jane Eyre soon.

Posted in The Ponderings of Life

Announcement: Summer Mission Trip to KENYA

I am very excited to share with you the new opportunity I have to serve on a mission trip this summer.
As most of you know, I went on my first mission trip last summer to Red Springs, North Carolina, and had an amazing experience! I enjoyed it so much that I was originally planning to return this summer…but God had other plans. An opportunity came up for me to join the team going to Kenya and after much prayer and thought, I decided to see what God has for me there!

Proceeds to Kenya

In order to go on this trip, I must raise $2,900 by June 1st. As a way to help raise money, as of today, I am using all future profits made from the sales of my two self-published novels Bridget’s Journey and Everlasting toward the cost of this mission trip!

If you want to help contribute, please consider getting your copy of Bridget’s Journey paperback or Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Bridgets-Journey-Valerie-Cotnoir-e…/…/

And Everlasting paperback or Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/Everlasting-Valerie-Cot…/…/B01B2AX00S/

Also, if you purchase (or have already purchased) the paperback of Everlasting you can download the Kindle version for just $0.99!

Thank you so much for your support! I look forward to telling all of you about my experience in Kenya later this summer!