So, what changed?

I’ve been thinking back to how I was writing before I got sick ten years ago (and everything fell to pieces). What has changed? Why am I struggling with writing to the extent that I am?

Ignoring the fact that I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, why can’t I pull myself together to do these things? Or is that the reason in itself? It can’t be. I know people who suffer from these things and they do get writing done.

Working full time for the last year and a bit for the first time since before I got sick is definitely not helping. I have limited energy, and currently it feels like all of it is going towards getting to work and doing my job. When I’m home, very little – if anything – is left. Not working, however, is not an option – because of that pesky detail of paying bills.

After a busy week, I just spent a whole day in bed. So energy levels definitely aren’t at their best at the moment.

The one thing other than my illnesses that I know is different is that I had a friend/colleague that read my chapters as I finished them. I think on some level that helped me feel motivated to keep going. Writing a book, as any writer knows, is a sludge and a rather lonely process. You have no idea if what you’re churning out is terrible or at least decent. (Most likely terrible, there’s a reason there’s a revision process!)

Still, having that one person who read each chapter as I wrote them – it kept me going. And it gave me an idea if I was on the right track, because she’d question things if they didn’t make sense and some things I could then nip in the bud instead of possibly missing them during the revisions/editing. I definitely miss having that.

None of this helps with my lack of energy, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Truth is, I have no solution, I think maybe I just needed to vent.

If you have a chronic illness of some kind, how do you get through it and find the energy/ability to write?

Book Titles

This week’s struggle is regarding book titles. I’m terrible at choosing book titles or story titles, I truly am.

The Regency Romance series I’m currently writing will be sub-titled by the surname of the main family, once I choose their surname, but obviously each book needs its own title. Which would be the most important part, really.

Because the siblings all have names from Shakespeare’s works, I wanted the titles to play on that as well.

The original titles I came up with were:

  1. As He Likes It
  2. Taming of the Rake
  3. Winter’s Kiss
  4. ???

The fourth one I’m not sure about. I’ve been thinking maybe A Midsummer Night’s Proposal or something similar.

As time has gone on though, I’ve come to realise that the first title might sound a lot more racy than the book truly is. It kind of sounds like an erotica title. Doesn’t it? So I think that I should probably change it. But I’m struggling to come up with more titles that sound well from Shakespeare.

One idea was to have every title reference kiss.

  1. A Midsummer Night’s Kiss
  2. The Kissing of the Rake or Kissing the Rake
  3. Winter’s Kiss
  4. Twelfth Kiss

But then I’m not sure if that’s just too much kiss, you know?

I’m at a loss. I don’t really know what to do at this point. Other than pulling my hair in frustration.

To Name or Not to Name

My latest struggle is regarding the surname of the main family of my Regency Romance. The idea is that there will be four books, one for each of the siblings.

Originally, their surname was Howerty, but I’m not sure how I feel about that name now. I don’t think it has a nice ring to it.

For a moment, I thought I had the perfect surname; Hathaway! It was ideal, because the siblings all have names from Shakespeare’s works (due to their mother being a big fan), and the plan is that each book title with be a play on his works as well.

So, Hathaway seemed like the name to go for.

Except, I had completely forgotten about Lisa Kleypas’ series, “The Hathaways“. I even read the books, and yet I had completely forgotten the name!

Which means that I’m back to square one. I can either stick with Howerty, but I’m just not loving the name. It was a name I came up with as a teenager when I penned the first version of what will be the second book in one of my old writing pads. Or I need to think of a new name. It needs to be a name that I 1) like and 2) works well as a series title. The Hathaways, being a really good one. The Howertys? I don’t know.

Do you ever struggle with names?

Blog Dilemma

I’m struggling with a decision.

Basically, I have too many blogs. I have a personal blog where I tend to put everything, including boring day to day stuff. It’s possibly somewhere in between a personal journal and a blog, and I enjoy keeping it since I’ve had it for over ten years. It’s nice being able to go back to it and see what happened when etc. (Especially since my memory is terrible.)

Then there’s this one, which I haven’t updated for a while since I went back to my original blog (above) while trying to decide what to do.

Then there’s my future author blog. Which at the moment is pretty much empty, since I’m not writing there yet, and even when I do – it might mainly be news updates about new books etc.

The decision I’m trying to make is basically how many blogs to keep.

Option 1: Keep only personal blog and author blog.

Option 2: Keep all three blogs, cross-posting non-personal stuff on The Struggling Writer and personal blog. Author blog still just book news etc.

Option 3: Same as option 1, but author blog basically turns into The Struggling Writer with those types of posts posted there.

Option 4: Merge personal blog with The Struggling Writer, meaning all posts end up on TSW (author blog still only just author blog.)

I’m really struggling with this decision, so if anyone has any input, feel free to give suggestions!

Naps > Making decisions

Character Names

One of the more enjoyable parts in writing is finding the perfect character names. Or if not perfect, at least names that you feel fit and you like. There are lots of ways to do this. Sometimes a name might just come to you, or you’ve read it in another book, seen it on TV, maybe you even know someone with that name.

Other times, you’re struggling and you can’t come up with a name no matter how hard you try. These are the times when you might need some help, and I will share some of the places where I go to look with you.

Contemporary Names

These are probably the easiest, because pretty much any name goes. You’ve seen some of the names celebrities name their babies, right? I usually go to any baby name website to look for names that I like for a contemporary story.

Babynames.com

NameBerry

Babynames.co.uk

BabyCentre

Historical Names

When it comes to writing historical fiction, it helps if the names are at least plausibly from that era. If your Regency hero is called Maddox for example, people might call you out on it. For my historical fiction I tend to look at the above databases for names, and then double check their etymology to see if there was any chance they existed back in the early 19th century.

For me, in reality, Regency names were quite limited in which names were actually popular at the time – so to avoid writing books where a lot of people have the same name – I’m allowing myself some leniency on the names. As long as it’s not too far from the realm of possibility.

You can also find some places online where you can look at registers of people who actually lived at the time. Or steal a name from an author that you know lived back then. We all know Jane, Emily and Charlotte were names used in that time period!

For my four book series, I named the four siblings after characters in Shakespeare’s plays (their mother loved all things Shakespeare). So something like that is also possible. Choosing names that appeared in works published in, or before, the time period that you’re writing about.

Name Etymology

Fantasy Names

For fantasy names you can go either way, all depending on what kind of book you’re writing. You can make names up from scratch, you can use a name generator, you can use common names with slight variations.

In the few fantasy stories I’ve written I tend to do a mixture. Some names are made up, some are old gaelic or roman names, sometimes with a slight variation. Some are more common names with some variation. The advantage in fantasy is that it’s your fantasy, and the world you build will adhere to your imagination and your rules. If you want common names like John to be what people are called in your story, then that’s what you do.

An example of someone who used common names with a slight deviation, combined with some made up names: George RR Martin.
Jon Snow (John)
Eddard Stark (Edward)
Joffrey Barathian (Geoffrey)
All obviously based on real names. But then you have names like Sansa, which didn’t seem to exist before Game of Thrones.

Fantasy Name Generator

Surnames

I use a surname website for the last name of my characters, combined with just making things up. Sometimes I will look at maps of the UK when I need surnames and/or titles to get ideas. There are a lot of great names in street names and areas!

Surname Database

How do you name your characters, and do you have any tips on where to find names?

Editing

Whenever I read articles about self-publishing your books, whether it be in paperback or e-book, everyone is always pointing out how important it is with editing. I agree, editing is very important, and I can get quite frustrated when reading books if I find an inordinate amount of mistakes (especially if it’s in the first few pages!).

However, they often tell you to use a freelance editor to do your editing. I don’t expect to make a lot of money on my books. An e-book, on average, sells a total of 250 copies in its lifetime. That’s on average, which means that you could very well be below that number.

If you then spend around £1000 on a professional editor for your novel, you’re most likely going to make a loss on your book. While I would like to think that I write mainly for myself (and this is true), I can’t really afford to lose money on my writing. So, I’m sorry my friends – but I have to do my own editing, revising and proofreading.

If I somehow get lucky and sell a lot more than expected – then I’ll spend that money. When I might stand a chance to earn it back. Until then, I’m on my own.

Do you do your own editing, or do you pay someone else to do it?